Monday, February 22, 1999

XU's Grant fuels hot Trail Blazers


Rebounding shooting on rise

The Associated Press

        PORTLAND, Ore. — If Dennis Rodman decides to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, he'll have to compete with Portland's Brian Grant for the rebounding title.

        Grant, a playing with Wormlike aggressiveness, is averaging 19.7 rebounds and 17 points in his last three games, including a career-high 24 rebounds — the most in the NBA this season — in the Trail Blazers' 90-84 victory over Golden State late Saturday night.

        “I just want to go out there and play hard and I want us to win, so if I only end up with a rebound or no rebounds and we're winning, it doesn't matter,” said the Xavier University and Georgetown High graduate, whose team has won four straight and six of seven.

        The 6-foot-9, 254-pound power forward had just 25 rebounds in Portland's first four games, but has 70 rebounds in the four games since, boosting his average to 11.9, fourth in the league behind Chris Webber (14.9), Tim Duncan (12.7) and Shaquille O'Neal (12.5).

        Late Friday, Grant overpowered the listless Celtics, getting 18 rebounds and using sheer might to wrest balls away from foes. Saturday, the Warriors' starting five barely outrebounded Grant, 25-24.

        “The last two nights, the effort that Brian Grant has put out on the floor has been just incredible,” Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

        Grant, 26, came to Portland as a free agent in the summer of 1997 after three years of losing in Sacramento. After signing a six-year, $56 million contract, he averaged 12 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, but missed 17 games with a stress fracture in his leg.

        Grant also had surgery on his right shoulder in 1996 and again after last season, but says he is free of pain now.

        He's trying to balance his game by developing some sort of shooter's touch amid the crashing bodies underneath the basket.

        “I'm shooting my shots real hard off the glass instead of just trying to go up and dunk them,” Grant said.

       



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