The Portland Trail Blazers are still one victory shy of making it to the Western Conference semifinals. But now they're also one defeat away from being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the upstart Seattle SuperSonics.
"The key is for us to remember how good a team we've been," Portland Coach Rick Adelman said following his team's 101-89 loss to the Sonics Thursday night."Sometimes, losing two like this, all you can think of are these two losses," Adelman added. "We just have to play like we're capable of playing."
The final game in the best-of-five first-round series will be played in Portland on Saturday. The winner will be play Utah in a best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.
The Trail Blazers who lost Game 4 didn't look like the team that had the league's best regular-season record at 63-19. They didn't look like a team that has been made the favorite to win the NBA championship.
In the final five minutes of Game 4, they didn't even look like the team that lost in Seattle 102-99 Tuesday night. Portland missed seven of 10 free throws in the last quarter and made only 20 of 39 in the game.Adelman said rebounding will be the key to Saturday's game. Seattle had a 46-45 rebounding edge Thursday night and a 43-31 advantage in rebounds Tuesday night.
"The team that rebounds best will win Game 5," Adelman said. "We can't let them get on the boards."
Eddie Johnson scored 34 points, one shy of his playoff career scoring high.
Nate McMillan put the Sonics ahead 86-84 with a basket - his only points of the night - after an offensive rebound with 4:55 to go.
With Seattle in front 88-85, the Sonics reeled off nine straight points, capped by Sedale Threatt's three-pointer with 57.3 seconds on the clock, for a 97-85 lead.
Clyde Drexler, who had 39 points in the Blazers' playoff opener against Seattle, had 19 points. But he was no factor in the final five minutes.
Drexler admitted the Blazers came to Seattle thinking 3-0 sweep against the Western Conference's No. 8-seeded team. "That would have been nice, but the bottom line is to just win the series," he said.
The Sonics said they want to win this series as much as the Blazers. They already have accomplished something no No. 8-seeded team has ever done - win two games in a first-round series - since the 16-team playoff format was started by the NBA in 1984.