PORTLAND, Ore. -- What appeared to be a combustible situation Wednesday night between Portland teammates Jerome Kersey and Danny Ainge in the fourth quarter of game four of the NBA Finals, instead served as a rallying point for the Trail Blazers in beating the Chicago Bulls, 93-88, and tying the series, 2-2.
With 7.42 remaining, Ainge attempted to calm Kersey, whose flagrant foul of forward Scott Williams had led to three successful free throws and an 80-74 lead for the Bulls. But an enraged Kersey shoved Ainge aside.
"I guess I mistook Danny for [lead official] Darryl Garretson, who made the call," Kersey laughed. "I went a little crazy, But I think that incident really gave me and the rest of a team an emotional lift."
It certainly helped Kersey, who ended a three-game shooting slump by scoring 21 points, and made 4 of his 5 shots in the last quarter to spark the comeback.
* TOO MUCH STAT-IC: Asked the difference between playing today and when he debuted in the NBA 13 years ago, Bulls center Bill Cartwright said, "There wasn't all this statistical stuff when I turned pro. People didn't take first quarter figures and project them over a whole game. You used to have two weeks to break out of a shooting slump. Now you have two minutes."
* GUARD DUTY: Although he believes he is good enough to start, B.J. Armstrong, who backs up Bulls guard John Paxson, is not complaining about his playing time, an average of 20 minutes a game.
"People tell me I could be starting on another team," said B.J., "but I'm proud to be on a championship team. You look at the guys who play a lot of minutes and their bodies aren't built for endurance. I've been fortunate to be in a healthy situation, and I'm looking at the big picture."
* DOGGED DEFENSE: Clyde Drexler's shooting percentage (.425) and scoring average (23.8) in the finals have fallen below his regular season figures of .470 and 25.0, and Blazers teammate Ainge credits Michael Jordan for applying the defensive clamps.
"I haven't seen anyone guard Clyde the way Michael has," said Ainge. "Uusally, Clyde is stronger than the guy playing him and can outjump him. But Michael just makes it difficult for him to get the ball."
* TIRED BLOOD: Bulls coach Phil Jackson blames his team's inconstent playoff performances on fatigue. "It's a matter of playing 100 games for three straight years," said the former New York Knicks forward. "There is very little recuperative time, and the summer passes quickly. Pro basketball is a brutal sport. Just watch me walk some time."
* FATAL FOURTH: The Bulls have lost the fourth game in their last three playoff series against New York, Cleveland, and now Portland.
* TERP-TIME: Maryland guard Walt Williams, projected as an lottery pick in the draft June 24, will audition for the Washington Bullets next week. Coach Wes Unseld and his assistants will also put USC guard Harold Miner through his paces, but the betting remains that the Bullets, who own the sixth selection, will draft big, with N.C. State's Tom Gugliotta the favored choice.
* BOGEYMAN: Portland's Peter Jacobson, who plays the pro golf tour, accompanied Jordan in an 18-hole tour of the Waverly Country Club. After Jordan shot an 85, Jacobsen said, "I'll be playing center for the Bulls before Jordan joins the tour, believe me."