An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett
Flashback: Blazers overcome Rudd's trey
Day 13 of our 30-team NBA playoff flashback profiles the Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers franchise has one NBA title, and has 15 playoff appearances since the 1991-92 season.
Date: May 26, 1992
Situation: The No. 1 Portland Trail Blazers and the No. 2 Utah Jazz are tied, 2-2, heading to Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
Context: For the third straight season, Clyde Drexler and the Blazers dominated the West in the regular season, finishing 57-25 to win the Pacific Division and earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. In the postseason, Drexler, Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey led a balanced Portland attack that eliminated the Lakers in four games in the opening round, then dispatched Phoenix in five games in the West semis. In a rematch of the previous year’s West semis, the Blazers met up with the Jazz in the West finals. Both teams held serve on their home courts, the Blazers winning Games 1 and 2 convincingly, before the Jazz returned home to take a pair and tie the series, 2-2, heading back to Portland.
Recap: As they had done their first two home games, the Blazers jumped out to an early lead, outscoring the Jazz 32-22 in the first quarter. The lead was eight at the half, but in the third quarter, Utah began closing in. Without John Stockton — he was injured during the game — Utah tied the game heading to the fourth quarter. The teams remained close in the fourth, the Blazers leading by three in the final minute. And with 5.5 seconds left in regulation, Delaney Rudd, filling in for Stockton, shocked Portland and drilled a three — his first of the game — to tie the game and send it to overtime. (It was the third of four overtime games for the Blazers throughout the playoffs.) In the extra frame, though, Portland proved to be too much. The Blazers poured in 20 points over the five minutes, holding off Utah to take a 3-2 series lead. Portland won, 127-121.
Top players: Jerome Kersey (29 points) led Portland. Four Blazers scored at least 24 points, and four Blazers played at least 47 minutes. Portland used just seven players in the game. Karl Malone scored 38 for Utah, and Tyrone Corbin added 28 off the bench. Delaney Rudd scored eight points.
After the game: The Blazers broke the trend of home teams winning, using a big second half to oust the Jazz on the road in six games, 105-97, and advance to their second NBA Finals in three years. Of course, they ran into Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Chicago won the series in six, their second of three consecutive titles. Each of the next six seasons, the Blazers made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round. They haven’t been back to the Finals since.
Check back tomorrow for the Kings.
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