A semi-new feature here on the RCP as I dig into the Blazer archives and hope I come out ..."/> A semi-new feature here on the RCP as I dig into the Blazer archives and hope I come out ..."/> A semi-new feature here on the RCP as I dig into the Blazer archives and hope I come out ..."/>

Retro Diary 1997 Playoffs, Lakers vs. Blazers Gm. 4 (Part I)

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A semi-new feature here on the RCP as I dig into the Blazer archives and hope I come out alive. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but a lack of time and exciting off-season have pushed it off. Until today.

Let’s turn the clock all the way back to May 2nd, 1997. Game 4 of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs. The Blazers are at home in the Rose Garden hosting the always hated Los Angeles Lakers. Dropped the first two games on the road but a 30-point performance from Kenny Anderson in Game 3 saved their behinds. Will they even the series or will PJ and co. saunter off in the sunset, exiting stage left in the first round for the third straight year. Only time will tell.

(By the way…underrated season for the Western Conference. At least at the top half. The Blazers won 49 games and were the 5th seed. The top 4 was nasty: Utah (64), Houston and Seattle (57) and the Lakers (56)

Bob Neal and Chuck Daly are doing the game for TNT. Bob is dropping the starting lineups as the Blazer music is blaring in the background. For the Lakers it’s Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones in the backcourt, Robert Horry and Elden Campbell playing the forwards and Slim Shaq at center. Elden Campbell might as well have been called Blazer Killer during the early and mid 90’s. PJ and the Blazers counter with Kenny Anderson and JR Rider in the backcourt, the almost forgotten combo of Uncle Cliffy and Sheed in the frontcourt with Sabas at center.

Before the tip, TNT shows an issue of the Oregonian Sports page with a mini-headline of ‘NBA rumor mill has Dunleavy in Portland’. Yikes. I forgot that was a pretty messy deal. But PJ sucked so I don’t feel bad.

Cheryl Reggie Miller in the building (boy she’s not aging well) and she talked to Bob Whitsitt who of course gave her the classic Whitsitt run-around. I don’t miss that guy. She does bust out the ‘Shaq Smackers’. What a gimmick that was. I still have that. Couldn’t find an image on the internet but it was a noise-maker/clacker. Two plastic hands on each side that would smack the middle and make noise. Let’s say this didn’t phase Shaq the least.

Formatting…I could blatantly rip off Kelly Dwyer but I’ll opt not too. We’ll work out the kinks but for now I’ll just stick with the times as I comment.

-The tip goes to Elden Campbell and immediately the crowd boos. Right off the bat you hear the three drums which only means one thing in the Rose Garden: BEAT L-A. That chant to a Blazer Fan is what Shake N Bake was to Cal Naughton Jr and Ricky Bobby.

-Campbell with a fadeaway over Sheed in the block to put the Lakers up 2-0 very quickly. Didn’t I say he was a Blazer Killer.

-The announcers are really interested in the Van Exel/Anderson matchup. It’s funny that’s a big playoff matchup and the coaching is Del Harris vs. PJ Carlesimo. Elden turns it over and the crowd cheers. Maybe I was wrong?

-PJ “chuckled” at the rumors of his demise. Well….I don’t think he chuckled too long. Kenny Anderson by the way….stupid fast. He walked it up and then was in the paint like nothing. Wanna talk about a change of speed?? Good gosh.

-Three possessions, three turnovers for the Blazers. Awesome. Meanwhile on the other side, Elden Campbell is trying to go off. 2002 Shaq would have punched him in the face. 1997 Shaq kept his thoughts inside. And still rapped. And made crappy movies.

(Between us, Kazaam was a million times better than Steel. At least in this era of trainwreck shows that are so bad you have to watch (looking at you Sunset Tan) you can’t tell me Kazaam isn’t hilariously awful)

-Graphic from Game 3 shows Van Exel had 0 points and Anderson had 30. Damn.

-Eddie Jones drops two free throws and it’s 4-0 Lakers a couple minutes into the game. Illegal defense call….ohhhh sweet illegal defense. The days before the zone was legal in the L. Rider gets double teamed in the post and travels. Thats’ 4 turnovers in a little over 2 minutes. In an elimination game. Way to get em ready PJ!

-Eddie clanks an open jumper from the corner short. Good to see some things didn’t change 10 years later.

-Cliff Robinson with a nice spin move and shoots over Campbell…his shot literally hits the side of the backboard and nothing else. The crowd is desperate for the Blazers to do anything and they are not obliging.

-Game turned into the Sabas vs. Shaq show. Sabonis sank a baseline 18-footer to finally score….Shaq answers right back beasting Sabas for an easy bucket…Sabonis answers back with a layup. 6-4 Lakers with 8 minutes left in the first.

-Immediate boos when Shaq touches the ball. He kicks it out and gets it back. More boos. Sabas blocks him and the crowd roars. Fast break, Kenny Anderson clanks a three and the crowd deflates. Then Van Exel knifes in the lane and finishes over Sabas. 8-4.

-Rider was crazy strong back in the day. But he just missed two point blank layups in the post. He looked like that really buff, athletic football player during a pickup game. You know the one who looks good and is super fast but you quickly realize he can’t shoot and can’t make layups.

-Sheed finally gets the ball. He posts up…does his classic three dribbles. But dropsteps and lays in it. A couple years later that turned into an all day fadeaway. Even better than him scoring in the low post was this from Chuck Daly and Bob Neal:

“You love Rasheed Wallace. Hits the corner shot…he can post up and play inside…nice defensive talent…center/forward and his best years are ahead of him.”

“He’s been Mr. Consistent.”

Yes…actual compliments for Rasheed Wallace. We’ve got better odds at Quite Frankly coming back with Abbott as the #1 guest than hearing that kind of praise for Sheed again.

-6:21 left in the first quarter and it’s 11-6 Lakers. The Blazers have 5 turnovers I believe.

-Jerome Kersey bald in a Laker warmup in Portland is just weird. I got bad vibes about that. Hilarious is that on the bench it’s Byron Scott, young Kobe, Kersey and young Derek Fisher.

-Travis Knight just blocked Cliff Robinson. I’m not making that up.

-Sheed is taking over and the crowd is loving it. He’s scored the last 6 points for the Blazers and just altered Shaq’s layup on the fast break. And yes Shaq ran on the fast break. Meanwhile Kenny Anderson is not playing well at all. I pray Bayless doesn’t turn into him.

-Uncle Cliffy passes up a shot and then gets it back and clanks it way short. Ahhh the days when Uncle Cliffy was averaging 15+ but disappearing in the playoffs. Sixth turnover for the Blazers.

-Timeout on the floor, Lakers up 17-12 with 2:26 left in the first. 7 turnovers by the Blazers. 1 Sabonis hook-shot.

-Chris Dudley is in the game. I got nothing else except we barely missed out on Dudley vs. Knight. So sad. As is Jerome Kersey. Even sadder. Still don’t feel good about it, he looks mad.

-Sheed smoothly beasts Horry down low to cut the lead to 19-14. He has 8 so far. He seriously could have been so good.

-JR Rider had the most drawn out free throw routine in the history of life. Officially.

-21-19 Lakers at the end of 1. It’s been all Rasheed, all the time for the Blazers.

-We start the second quarter and here is bald headed, big headed very young non Snake like Kobe. His first visit to an arena he would cause nightmares in. And JR Ride
r sticks a fadeaway right in his grill to tie the game at 21.

-Shaq was averaging 35 and 9.7 during this series. Damn. Watching this and watching him now is darn near depressing.

-Rider drops a dime to Gary Trent who slams it home. Insert your own Jailblazer joke you heartless human being. 25-23 Lakers early in the 2nd. Shoutout to Multnomah Falls.

-Sabonis with another classic Sabas hook shot, his 8th points of the game. Does anyone else kind of wish we could sign him to the #15 spot? No? It’s ok.

-Shaq just absolutely posterized Gary Trent. This should be on YouTube. I promise you. It was high and powerful and….damn. PJ calls timeout, it’s 31-25 Lakers with 8 minutes left in the half.

-The first WNBA commercial with Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo walking down the hall. They had next. And they are still playing, except for Lobo. Rebecca Lobo continues to be the Andre the Giant of sideline reporters. Anyone else think if she had averaged 20 and 10 that maybe the WNBA would be more popular? I’m just saying….she was popular back in the day.

-Sheed is finally back in the game. Rumeal Robinson sighting for Portland at the point. Sheed and Sabas have 18 of the 25 points.

-Speaking of Sheed they call him for a turnover and he has a mini, mini outburst. Very Sheed like. And he continues. Three years from now that’s an automatic T. Also the Blazers have 10 turnovers.

-Sheed with a fadeaway and he mouths off to Steve Javie. The beginning of a beautiful relationship. Cliffy finally does something nailing a wide open three to tie the game at 31. The fans are UP. And they immediately throw it to Shaq. How many times has that happened?

-THE PLASTIC MAN IN THE HOUUUUUUUSE. Stacey Augmon with remnants of his hair.

-Anderson to Sabas for the layup and the Blazers take their first lead of the game, 33-32. Laker turnover and the Garden is positively rocking. 9-1 Portland run in the last 2:50. Spotaneous BEAT L-A chant. Kenny Anderson loves the sound of that and nails a mid range jumper.

-LA calls a 20 second timeout, the fans rise and the Blazers are up 36-32. Versace loves the pick and roll between Anderson and Sabas. A stat shows the Lakers are 11/30 and the Blazers are shooting 62% with 23912 turnovers.

-Sabas top of the key line drive three….crowd wants it, crowd needs it….front rim. Damn. But he steals it and makes an amazing bounce pass to Anderson in a crowd who leads the fast break it goes to Cliffy and to Sheed who slams it home. 38-32 Blazers with 4:30 left in the 2nd quarter.

-Shaq beasts Sabas and scores. Crowd. Deflated.

-Lakers with their 4th Illegal Defense call. So glad they changed that rule. Also, considering where Mamba is today it’s hilarious to see him having a discussion with Del Harris. By the way Eddie Jones just stole it and dunked. 39-36

-Chuck Daly had the ability to see the future powers: “…Watching this club I’m not sure who the leader is I know Shaq maybe should be…I think Kobe Bryant very definitely will be the leader of this club in years to come” Direct quote. Someone sign this man back up for games.

-Sabas with a behind the back pass to Cliffy who lays in it. Just a classic Sabonis in the post pass. The crowd cheered before Cliff even finished. 41-36 Blazers with over 3 left in the first half.

-What’s the Kryptonite to the Rose Garden crowd? Shaq. He dunked on half of the Blazer roster. Sheed picked up his third foul in the chaos. Chris Dudley is coming in. Oh gosh. Dudley, Sabonis and Augmon are in the game. Who is going to score?

-The answer? For now it’s the Plastic Man who just made a ridiculous twisting layup. Like I think he added an unnecessary twist like he was trying to be Dominique Dawes or something.

(Yes 96/97 pop culture.)

-Chuck Daly is kind of a breath of fresh air compared to the somewhat doo-doo we hear today. He just correctly pointed out that the Blazers are going to need shooters when the Lakers start trapping.

-I can’t describe the interview that just took place between Cheryl Miller and Damon Stoudamire. I just can’t. All you need to know is that hilarity ensued.

-All those good things I was saying about Daly? Nearly down the drain. After Elden scored his 10th points “Dudley…having two free throws was a little bit careful but very close to picking up his third.” Or fouls.

-Another illegal defense on the Lakers. If you want an easy drinking game, bust this game out and take shots on every Blazer turnover and every Laker illegal defense. You’ll be hammered by halftime. You also will be having much more fun that me…this game is lightweight ugly.

-It’s Dudley time. Dudley at the free throw line….and he makes it? The crowd went wild, Augmon clapped on the bench and Sheed….could care less. I love the Dudley hitch. Love it. He banked the second in and that got Sheed up. And then Dudley blocked Van Exel on the other end.. DUDLEY DO-RIGHT!!!!

-Bob Neal says All-Star Eddie Jones. *Google* Three times. WTF. I’m gonna bust that out as a trivia question. Also Kobe and Shaq weren’t talking on the bench in 97 either.

-Despite all the turnovers and foul trouble, the Blazers are up 5 at the half. 49-44. Sabonis and Sheed both have 10. Shaq (18) and Elden are in double digits for the Lakers.