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Blazers’ Zach Randolph Punches Teammate

April 3, 2003 GMT

TUALATIN, Ore. (AP) _ Portland forward Zach Randolph punched teammate Ruben Patterson in the face during practice, leaving the Trail Blazers with another disciplinary problem this season.

It was unclear what prompted the fight Wednesday. But it began with an argument between rookie Qyntel Woods and Patterson, and Randolph stepped in.

``This was pretty serious,″ Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said Thursday.

The Trail Blazers are a half-game ahead of Minnesota for fourth place in the Western Conference, playing for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with nine games to go.

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The Trail Blazers said disciplinary action against Randolph would be announced before Thursday night’s game against Utah.

Randolph, a reserve, did not attend Thursday’s practice and Patterson quickly left without speaking to reporters. The team acknowledged Patterson was hit in the face but would not elaborate.

``We have to find a way to stay together,″ Cheeks said. ``My job is to make sure this team stays together. I need to find a way to make sure the team is not splintered. We have learned that when things happen, we have to deal with them.″

Scottie Pippen said the fight followed a ``heated practice.″

``It’s hard to say what really happened,″ he said. ``If Zach had a chance to relive that moment he would make better choices.″

Added teammate Derek Anderson: ``I just saw them break it up. Whatever happened, it’s unfortunate.″

The fight is the latest in a series of serious problems for the Trail Blazers this season.

Last Saturday, Woods was cited by Portland police on marijuana possession charges after a traffic stop. Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire were cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession after a traffic stop in Washington state on Nov. 22. Both cases were recently resolved in court.

Patterson was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault on Nov. 25. Charges were not pursued at the request of his wife, but the Trail Blazers fined him $100,000.

Wallace was suspended for seven games by the NBA for threatening an official after a Jan. 15 game. It was the longest suspension for a matter not involving drugs or physical contact.

Bonzi Wells was suspended by the team for one game after arguing with Cheeks during practice on March 10.