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Shaq's 41 lead Lakers in West final opener

Published Sep. 27, 2005

This wasn't just "Hack-a-Shaq." This was "Hack-, hack-, hack-a-Shaq and keep on hacking."

And it didn't work.

Shaquille O'Neal was 12-for-25 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to shatter the playoff record for attempts in a quarter Saturday as the Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-94 in the opener of the best-of-seven Western Conference final.

O'Neal, fouled virtually every time the Lakers had the ball in a four-minute stretch that began with 5{ minutes to go, finished with 41 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocked shots.

"It hasn't worked all year, and it ain't going to work," O'Neal said.

O'Neal, who had not scored more than 23 in any of his four games against Portland in the regular season, was 13-for-27 at the line, 12-for-24 in the final 5{ minutes.

"Shaq stepped up and made the shots, which made everything look kind of stupid," Portland's Scottie Pippen said. "When you're down, you try anything. It's a gamble when you do what we did today."

The record was 14 by Michael Jordan against Detroit on May 21, 1991.

Portland coach Mike Dunleavy defended the tactic.

"Well, he's a 40 percent free-throw shooter, and he was 13-for-27 today, so that's under 50 percent," Dunleavy said. "Obviously, if we get down in the game, I don't think it's a bad strategy. Had we scored better, we would have put ourselves in a position to win the game."

Lost in the bizarre free-throw parade was a magnificent second quarter by the Lakers' bench that gave Los Angeles a 24-point lead that was just too big for Portland to overcome.

Game 2 is Monday at the Staples Center, where the Lakers are 7-0 in the playoffs.

The Lakers' reserves, led by Robert Horry, scored 20 of the team's 37 points in the second quarter.

Pippen led six Blazers in double figures with 19.

The Blazers went on a 19-6 run to get within 87-76 on Bonzi Wells' inside basket with 10:06 to play.

Detlef Schrempf's two free throws with five minutes to go cut it to 97-88, but all the attention given to fouling O'Neal seemed to take the Blazers out of their offense.

"They forgot they still had to score points," Los Angeles' Rick Fox said.

Los Angeles took command with a 26-4 run to start the second quarter and the Blazers never recovered.

Rasheed Wallace, the Blazers' biggest offensive threat, was thrown out after drawing his second technical foul from referee Ron Garretson with 6:43 left in the third quarter.

The Lakers are 23-1 at home since losing to Portland Jan. 22.