There are those who think the Trail Blazers' current makeup isn't of NBA championship mettle. Count their newest player not among the doubters.
"It's an exciting team, a team that's in the hunt for not only a playoff berth (but) for a championship," said Gerald Wallace, who will make his debut in a Portland uniform Sunday against Atlanta at the Rose Garden. "This is a great opportunity for me to contend for a championship on a team that's right there in the fight for it."
The 6-7 forward, acquired Wednesday in a trade with Charlotte, was a starter through his 6 1/2 seasons with the Bobcats and an All-Star and first All-Defensive Team selection in 2009-10. But he will probably start out with the Blazers as a reserve.
That's what coach Nate McMillan has in mind for now, using Wallace to back up both LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward and Nicolas Batum at small forward. Wallace seems to think that's fine.
"I don't think they need much from me besides the effort," he said. "My main goal is to go out every night and try to play hard and do things that don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet but help the team win. Whatever they need me to do, I'm willing to do to help us become a better team."
"I like his versatility, his ability to play both forwards," McMillan said. "He can play with the ball or off the ball. He's a good rebounder and defender. We'll work him into our rotation, off of what he can do. ... We'll have to work on that, as far as him starting or coming off the bench."
TRAIL BLAZERS 107, NUGGETS 106 (OT): Portland rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 18 seconds of regulation, then came away with the victory Friday night at the Rose Garden to avoid losing in overtime for the second game in a row. Portland fell 106-101 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. The victory pulled the Blazers (33-25) into a virtual tie with Denver (34-26) for the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
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