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Blazers need a calmer Wallace

The Portland star was thrown out of Saturday's game without a word.

With his leaping, scoring and defensive abilities, Rasheed Wallace presents the biggest matchup problem for the Lakers tonight in the Western Conference finals.

If he stays in the game.

"The bottom line is we're not going to win the series if he's not on the floor," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Wallace's reputation as the NBA's premier hot-head _ as evidenced by 38 technical fouls in the regular season and six in the playoffs _ has become a burden that was glaringly apparent Saturday in the Blazers' 109-94 loss in Game 1.

In February, Wallace vowed he would never be thrown out of a playoff game. He got thrown out Saturday without saying a word.

Referee Ron Garretson had hit Wallace with a technical in the first half as Wallace hollered at him from a seat on the floor near the Portland bench.

In a conversation with the Blazers' Steve Smith that was replayed for the television audience because the referee was wearing a microphone, Garretson said he had warned Wallace twice not to stare at him and that he would not be intimidated.

When the stare came after Wallace drew his fourth foul in the third quarter, Garretson threw him out.

"Rasheed didn't say a word. It was Ronnie's opinion that by Rasheed staring at him that he was trying to intimidate him," Dunleavy said. "I didn't think that referees got intimidated. They're the ones who have all the power."

Smith said before his team's practice Sunday that Wallace's ejection was unfair.

"To his defense, he didn't do anything," Smith said. "What's he supposed to do? Not look at a person?"

Wallace's reputation seems to make him more closely watched by the referees than other players are.

"It's human nature, maybe," Dunleavy said, "and maybe that's the way it works. Shaq's probably not going to get thrown out of the game for staring, and he's much more intimidating than Rasheed Wallace, in my mind."

Dunleavy said Wallace has to behave himself, but the officials should put aside any animosity they feel toward him, too.

"I don't know the answer to it, but I do know the result I would like, that Rasheed would be on the floor," Dunleavy said. "He has to play his part in it, but also I think some common sense and good judgment on the other part of it comes into play."

What Wallace feels about all of this remained a mystery.

Even though the NBA requires players to be "accessible and available" at practices, Wallace wouldn't talk to reporters Sunday, except to say "Excuse me gentlemen" as he got up and walked away.

Dunleavy was unrepentant about the "Hack-a-Shaq" tactic his team used to the extreme in an attempt to catch the Lakers in the final 5{ minutes. Shaquille O'Neal went to the foul line 25 times in the fourth quarter, shattering the playoff record of 14. He made 12 of them, and was 12-for-24 in the final 5{ minutes.

"It was a good strategy. It worked well for us. It was the right thing to do," Dunleavy said.

"When you have a guy under 50 percent from the free-throw line, it has a positive effect. We didn't take advantage at the other end by scoring the way we needed to score."

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