Trail Blazers 104, Bucks 95

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Nick Van Exel seems content with his place in NBA history.

Van Exel had season highs with 26 points and six 3-pointers in 30 minutes, and Zach Randolph added 22 points and 11 rebounds to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 104-95 victory over the reeling Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.

Van Exel, in his 12th season, is fifth on the NBA career list of made 3-pointers. He sank No. 1,400 after taking a pass from Randolph and connecting from 27 feet early in the third quarter, giving the Trail Blazers a 58-47 lead.

“This will be my last season. So, I’ve got to try to make as many as I can,” he said after going 9-of-17 from the floor and 6-of-11 from behind the arc.

Van Exel said that he had been thinking about this being his final season for the past couple of months. When pressed to explain his decision, he simply said, “I’m done. It’s a wrap.”

His long-range effort helped set a team season high of 12 3-pointers on 12-of-22 shooting, bettering the mark of 10 set in Portland’s 110-98 victory over the Bucks on Nov. 19.

Van Exel was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1993 and played five seasons there before spending three-plus seasons with Denver. He had a stint with Dallas and a year with Golden State before being traded to the Trail Blazers in July.

“Just getting up every morning and my body is just always aching—knees, back, hips. It just gets boring after a while.”

He said that he told everybody on the team that he was planning to retire. However, his coach isn’t too sure the decision is final.

“You’ve got to take what he says,” Maurice Cheeks said. “If he says it’s over, it’s over. But, I’m just saying from my end, not his end, it isn’t.”

Van Exel left the game after three quarters but returned with 2:25 left in the fourth after the Bucks trimmed the deficit to eight points. Randolph sank two free throws, and Van Exel made consecutive 3-pointers to stop the Bucks’ rally.

“They shot the ball extremely well from 3-point land,” Bucks coach Terry Porter said. “That kind of hurt us.”

Derek Anderson and Darius Miles each had 14 points for Portland, which went 3-3 on its six-game, nine-day road trip.

Mike James scored a season-high 22 points off the bench and Desmond Mason added 16 and Joe Smith 14, but it wasn’t enough as the Bucks lost their fifth straight.

The Bucks, who have five players on the injured list, started the season 3-1 but have gone 3-15 since.

Milwaukee didn’t get any help from starting guards Michael Redd and Maurice Williams, who were held scoreless until Redd—the team’s leading scorer—made two meaningless baskets in the closing minutes.

“I never got in a rhythm,” Redd said after going 2-for-10 from the floor. “They did a great job of having a person everywhere I was.”

Damon Stoudamire, who had a career-high 33 points in Portland’s victory over Milwaukee last month scored eight in 24 minutes on Wednesday.

Randolph’s two free throws gave the Blazers a 73-53 lead with 3:51 left in the third. The Bucks closed the quarter with a 10-4 run, but the Trail Blazers led 77-63 going into the final quarter.

Van Exel, averaging eight points a game, had 12 in the first quarter of his fourth consecutive start at point guard. His three 3-pointers helped the Trail Blazers take a 52-45 lead at the half.


Bucks center Dan Gadzuric had five dunks in the first quarter, almost doubling his average of 5.6 points a game. … Trail Blazers forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim missed his fifth consecutive game because of a hyperextended right elbow. … The Bucks slipped to 1-8 against the Western Conference.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
Z. Randolph Z. Randolph
9-14,  22 Pts
11 Rebs, 6 Assists
J. Smith J. Smith
6-9,  14 Pts
9 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders