drives toward the basket against Portland Trail Blazers' Dale Davis, left, during the second half of Game 2 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series Thursday in Los Angeles.
BYLINE1:By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Portland's state of desperation didn't seem to faze the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, who handled the Trail Blazers again Thursday night despite a late scare.
Shaquille O'Neal had 31 points and 14 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant added 19 points despite a poor shooting performance as the Lakers held off the Blazers 103-96 to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
The best-of-five matchup shifts to Portland for Game 3 on Sunday and a fourth game, if needed, Wednesday night.
Only six teams have ever come back to win a five-game series after being down 2-0 and just one -- Dallas against Utah last year -- has done so since 1994.
The win was the 18th in the last 19 playoff games for the Lakers, who are attempting to become the fifth team in NBA history to win three or more consecutive championships.
The Lakers are also trying to eliminate the Blazers from the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
Before this game began, many fans in the capacity crowd of 18,997 began chanting ''three-peat, three-peat'' -- just as they did in the final seconds of Game 1.
Celtics 93, 76ers 85
BOSTON -- Allen Iverson shook off the rust, but he couldn't shake off Paul Pierce. Pierce had 25 points and 10 rebounds, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:36 left to lead the Boston Celtics to a victory over the 76ers.
The Celtics took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series despite 29 points from Iverson, who missed the final 14 games of the regular season and struggled in the playoff opener. Game 3 is in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Philadelphia led 81-77 with 3:21 left to play when Tony Battie hit a basket and Pierce followed with a jumper -- just his second basket of the half -- to tie it. Pierce, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter, followed with a 3-pointer from the right side to give Boston an 84-81 lead it never relinquished.
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