The Portland Trail Blazers returned to their basic strengths, defense and rebounding, to beat Seattle 119-107 Saturday and finally eliminate the SuperSonics from the playoffs.
Terry Porter had 23 points, Clyde Drexler added 22 and Porter had 11 assists as the Blazers won the best-of-5 series 3-2 to advance to a second-round matchup against Utah. Game 1 of that series will be Tuesday night at Portland.The Sonics, trying to become the first No. 8 seed to win a playoff series, beat Portland twice in Seattle to force Saturday's deciding game. But the Sonics never challenged seriously after the second quarter on Portland's homecourt, where the Blazers have lost only five times this season.
Portland led by 22 in the second quarter and 20 at halftime. Seattle never got closer than the final margin in the second half and trailed by as many as 30.
Cliff Robinson came off the bench to score 20 for Portland. Eddie Johnson and Shawn Kemp scored 17 apiece for Seattle, but Johnson had only seven in the final three quarters.
The Blazers, who had the NBA's best regular season record at 63-19 but were on the brink of the biggest playoff upset in league history, used an 11-0 run to take the lead for good late in the first quarter.
Portland, led by Robinson's 11 points, outscored the mistake-prone Sonics Sonics 33-18 in the second quarter. An 18-5 Portland run gave the Blazers a 62-40 lead on Porter's driving layup with 52 seconds left in the half. Portland led 63-43 at halftime.
The Trail Blazers ended any faint hopes for a Seattle rally by outscoring the Sonics 8-2 to start the final quarter, building their lead to 28 points. Drexler, playing with four fouls, scored six during the spurt.
The Sonics made the final score respectable with a late surge against reserves.
Harassing defense put Portland in control in the second quarter.
The Blazers had 22 points off Seattle turnovers in the first half, compared with seven for the Sonics. The Sonics averaged 12 turnovers in the first four games against Portland, but had that many by halftime Saturday and finished with 19.