PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Maurice Cheeks’ closed-door meeting looks to have paid off for the Portland Trail Blazers.
After Portland was routed 101-82 by Memphis on Wednesday, Cheeks kept the locker room closed for 20 minutes and called out his team for a lack of effort.
“I never questioned after the other night that we wouldn’t come back and play hard,” Cheeks said. “I knew we’d respond.”
Stoudamire came into the game shooting 30.9 percent for the season, including 3-of-10 against Memphis. But he didn’t hesitate to take big shots, whether it was opening up the game with two 3-pointers or taking Buck guards Maurice Williams and Mike James into the paint.
“It was a conscious effort,” Stoudamire said. “I’m going to keep being aggressive for the rest of the year. Whether I am making them or missing them, I have the guys to get the rebounds.”
Milwaukee, which started the season by winning three of its first four games, has lost three straight, including both games in a home-and-home series with the Heat.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 17 points for the Blazers, but just six after the first quarter.
Redd, averaging 26 points, scored nine to fuel the Bucks’ offense early in the second half, and Milwaukee led by as many as 10 before Portland made its run.
Stoudamire and Derek Anderson started a 10-0 spurt with 3-pointers and Randolph tied the game at 62-all.
After taking a 75-69 lead into the fourth, Portland steadily pulled away and led by as many as 14.
“They came at us pretty good and we didn’t handle their pressure well,” said Bucks coach Terry Porter.
Theo Ratliff played just 20 minutes for the Blazers. Cheeks said Ratliff was injured after being kicked in the calf, but didn’t say whether the injury would cause him to miss any games.
Randolph was 12-of-14 from the foul line for the Blazers and Stoudamire hit all nine of his free throws as Portland finished 30-of-33.
Stoudamire, who had made just 7 of 30 3-point attempts this season, was 6-of-12 on the night and Portland finished 18-of-30 behind the arc.
With Ratliff sitting, Milwaukee exposed Portland’s interior defense scoring 62 points in the paint. Many of the baskets came from Mason or power forward Joe Smith, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Rumors have recently surfaced that the Blazers were discussing a deal with Toronto involving the Raptors’ Vince Carter and Portland forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a revolving cast of other players, but no deal appears imminent. “That’s what they are—rumors,” said Cheeks. “It’s part of the NBA, part of sports, everybody gets used to it. Until anything happens, that’s all they are, rumors.” … Jerome Kersey joined ex-Blazer teammate Porter’s coaching staff in Milwaukee this season. Both played for another Bucks assistant, Mike Shuler, when he was Portland’s head coach in the late 1980s.