LAKERS NOTEBOOK: BLAZERS HAVE TROUBLE IN TOW.
EL SEGUNDO - As ever, the Portland Trail Blazers will arrive in Los Angeles this weekend with enough baggage to fill an entire fleet of UPS brown vans.
In one corner, Rasheed Wallace's temper. In another, Scottie Pippen's mood swings. In another, Ruben Patterson's rap sheet. In another, Shawn Kemp's drug and weight problems.
And now, with the Blazers and Lakers preparing for their first-round playoff series, a cloud over starting guard Damon Stoudamire, who long has been the Blazers' best citizen.
Authorities in Lake Oswego, Ore., are investigating Stoudamire after discovering a pound of marijuana at one of his residences, according to The Oregonian. No charges have been filed, Stoudamire has not been arrested, and police have not yet said if the drugs were his.
But the investigation could pose a major distraction to the Blazers.
``I have no control over anything that is going on right now,'' Stoudamire told reporters. ``So I look at it as a situation where what you can't control, don't worry about.''
Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said news of the investigation would not affect his team.
``I'm planning to play Damon as usual. Everything is pretty much the same,'' Cheeks said. ``We are professionals, and we have a job to do. There's always distractions at some point, somewhere. And when we come on the basketball court, our distractions are put aside and we do what we have to do.''
--Head games: The Lakers and Blazers split the regular-season series, each winning twice at home. But the Lakers believe they still have an edge based on last year's first-round sweep of the Blazers and their 4-3 victory in the 2000 conference finals.
But then, the Lakers believe that back-to-back championships have given them a mental edge against every team in the league.
``I think it's obvious that we're in everybody's heads,'' Derek Fisher said, ``as far as personnel changes that teams have made in recent years and just certain comments that are made, things that happen after teams have beaten us in their place, the way that they celebrated. So it's obviously something that is just about league-wide.
``That's been the challenge this year for us, is understanding how many people despise us, and how many times when we go places it's the biggest game of the year and that's the win that people want to get the most.''
--Body movement: With only 13 players, the Lakers had no tough decisions to make on their postseason roster, which was submitted Thursday. As expected, they left off Jelani McCoy, who spent most of the season on the injured list.
The Blazers, loading up on defenders to throw at Shaquille O'Neal, put Chris Dudley on their playoff roster, along with journeyman point guard Rick Brunson and rookie forward Zach Randolph. They left off swingman Mitchell Butler, second-year point guard Erick Barkley and rookie big man Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje.
PLAYOFFS AT A GLANCE
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 19, 2002|
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