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TRAIL BLAZERS BLAME OFFICIATING FOR DEFEAT, SAY PISTONS PLAY BY DIFFERENT SET OF RULES

Fortune is fleeting in the NBA Finals.

Just ask the Portland Trail Blazers.One day, you're flying high after a big road victory and looking forward to winning the title with three straight home games.

The next, you've been bruised, battered and blown out by 15 points in your own building.

The Trail Blazers were looking for answers after their 121-106 loss to Detroit in Game 3 Sunday, and many were pointing their fingers at the officiating.

The Pistons, Portland Coach Rick Adelman said, are allowed to play defense with a different set of rules.

"It was different at one end of the court than the other," he said.

Quick fouls to Kevin Duckworth, Buck Williams and Jerome Kersey knocked the Blazers out of their early rhythm, Adelman said.

"You take your front line out and it's going to be tough," he said. "I think it changed the whole game and I have no idea how we got so many fouls, especially some of the offensive fouls we got. It was incredible."

The Blazers were left to grumble about the Pistons, contending the Detroit players' "bad boy" image gives them greater latitude with the officials.

"We're a very aggressive team, too," Williams said. "But we have to be allowed to be aggressive. If you're going to call a certain kind of game, you've got to call it mutually."

But Williams, who scored just five points and had six rebounds, said the Blazers can't expect to get the same kind of calls as the Pistons.

"It's like boxing against Sugar Ray Leonard," he said. "You can't expect to get a decision, you have to knock him out. We're not going to get a decision against the defending world champions. We have to knock them out."

The early calls against the Blazers helped create wide-open shots for the Pistons, Duckworth said.

"We didn't give up," he said, "but I believe it made a lot of guys slack off."

"We were really focused. We really tried to be aggressive," guard Terry Porter said. "But when some of our guys got in foul trouble, it really hurt."

The Trail Blazers saved some of their choicest comments for Detroit center Bill Laimbeer.

"When you go up, he chests up to you and throws you off balance, and they never call it," Kersey said. "You've got to make a call. You can't swallow your whistle.

"The other players on their team do a lot of holding," Kersey said. "But Laimbeer seems to do it a lot more than most people."

Kersey said Game 4 on Tuesday night will be even rougher than Sunday's contest.

"I guarantee it will be," he said. "That's not basketball. But if that's the way they want to play, we can take our shots at each other."

Porter, though, said the Trail Blazers have to forget the officiating and concentrate on playing the kind of basketball that won Portland the Western Conference title.

"There's nothing you can do about it," he said. "You just have to play through the officials and not let the officials get under your skin."

Porter said Portland's poor defense was a major factor in the loss.

"We definitely had too many defensive breakdowns," he said. "We allowed some of those guys to get too many wide open shots."

The Trail Blazers led 22-16 in the first quarter, but Detroit went on a 15-3 run and never relinquished control.

With the Pistons leading by eight to start the final quarter, Portland began a long series of bobbles. There were missed shots, bad passes and loose defense, and the Blazers were quickly down by 15.

Their first loss in 10 playoff home games and their first loss to Detroit in Portland since 1974 was only a matter of time.

"They were just miscues," Porter said. "A lot of times we weren't making that extra pass, then when we did that didn't work either."

After going 13-for-20 from the field in a 33-point performance in Thursday night's 106-105 overtime victory in Auburn Hills, Mich., Clyde Drexler was just 9-for-23 Sunday. He finished with 24 points.

"From the very beginning, we did not come out with enthusiasm," Drexler said. "The bottom line is we just did not play well."

Porter tried to look at the situation optimistically.

"The series is not over with yet," he said. "We've still got two more games at home and we've proven we can win there. We just have to win the next two and we'll still have the edge."