Shaquille O'Neal took his three-year-old daughter's advice and foiled another dose of 'Hack-a-Shaq' as the Los Angeles Lakers pushed the Portland Trail Blazers to the brink of elimination, in a 103-91 NBA win at Oregon, Sunday.
The Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
Glen Rice, celebrating his 33rd birthday, scored 13 of his 21 points in the decisive third quarter.
Rasheed Wallace scored 34 points, the most by any Blazer this season. He also grabbed 13 rebounds but was the only Portland player to score from the field for the first nine-plus minutes of the fourth quarter as the Blazers reached the brink of elimination.
"I called my daughter", O'Neal said, "She's 3 years old and really doesn't know the game. I said, 'Daddy loves you' and she answered, 'Good luck and bend your knees.' So that game was for her."
"Today was Glen's birthday, so I told Glen to do something I did when it was my birthday, because on my birthday I shot it all the time," said O'Neal, who scored 61 points on his birthday on March 6.
Harper, who made the winning jumper in game three, scored a playoff-high 18 points. He contributed six points in the third period, when the Lakers outscored the Blazers, 34-19, to open a 10-point lead entering the last period.
Portland was unable to pare the deficit and still trailed 87-77 when it resorted to "Hack-a-Shaq" with 5:53 to go. Already 3-of-3 from the line, O'Neal made two free throws and hit four more to open a 95-80 lead with 4:12 left and take the fight out of the Blazers.
The Lakers, who won twice in Portland to seize command of the Western Conference title series, can clinch their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1991 with a home triumph in game five Tuesday at Los Angeles - (Several Sources)
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