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Lakers' Jones rises to challenge

Eddie Jones answered his critics _ most notably Isaiah Rider _ with his play, not his mouth.

And now, according to Rider, the Portland Trail Blazers need a miracle.

Soft-spoken Jones, accused of disappearing in the playoffs, scored 21 points Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Blazers 108-99 for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five first-round series, which resumes Tuesday night in Portland.

Rider said before the playoffs that he would get the better of Jones in their matchup, and he was correct in the opener, outscoring Jones 25-14 although Jones blocked six shots as the Lakers won 104-102.

In Game 2, Rider led the Blazers with 24 points, but most of them came after the Lakers had taken command. And at one point in the third quarter, Jones had outscored Rider 20-9.

"The guys saw I was active, going to the basket a lot," Jones said. "They gave me the ball. I just need to take my shots when I get them. It was important for me to be aggressive."

The Blazers didn't attempt their first free throws until 8:12 remained in the second quarter. By that time, the Lakers had taken 19. Portland finished 17-for-21 and Los Angeles was 34-for-52.

"Free throws are the difference, I think," Rider said. "If we get slapped three times in a row on the arm, and they come down and get slapped once and they call a foul, that's ridiculous.

"I got slapped, Rasheed (Wallace) got slapped, Brian Grant got slapped. You've got to call it both ways."

About his matchup with Jones, Rider said, "I'm not going to go outside my team to outdo anybody. The bottom line is wins and losses, the personal thing does not matter.

"I believe in miracles. Down two games to none, we need a miracle."

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