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April 22, 1996 - Image 22

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-22

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1OB - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, April 22, 1996

NBA BASKETBALL

Ckniisago will beat Seattle in 7-
but I'm dreaming ofa Sunny day

am a Suns fan.
Let me get that out of the way right now. Because
when I think about the 1996 NBA Finals, I see game
six at the United Center in Chicago.
And Phoenix is leading the Bulls three games to two.
Then I see a Charles Barkley dunk with about two
minutes to go and the scoreboard flashes 98-78, Suns. On
NBC, Marv Albert is screaming about how Phoenix is
about to complete the most remarkable playoff run ever.
Bill Walton is blabbing about how Kevin Johnson is one
of the most complete players ever.
The city of Chicago is stunned. The riots are beginning
in Phoenix.
And then I wake up.
Here is a more realistic playoff
scenario:
The West: If the Sonics lose in the
first round for the third straight year,
coach George Karl could lose
something much more vital than his
job. He might lose his head - BARRY
because Seattle fans will be ready to SOLLENBRGR
chop it off if his team doesn't get by
Mitch Richmond and the Sacramento Sollenberger
Kings. in Paradise
Fear not, George.
There will be no Sonic-first-round-choke syndrome this
year.
That sets up a Seattle-Houston second round matchup
after the two-time defending champions dispatch Los
Angeles in a grueling five-game series. The Lakers almost
get by the Rockets, but a couple of their stars bump the ref
in game five and that's that.
In the other half of the West bracket, Portland upsets
Utah and the Spurs beat the Suns in five. Phoenix is in
good shape until Barkley's back goes out in the deciding
game. Afterwards, Barkley tells the world that he is
"retiring."
"My back just can't take it anymore," he says, as he
slings his clubs over his shoulder and heads for the links.
See you next year, Charles.
In the second round, the Sonics make sure that there
will be no three-peat by besting the Rockets. The Spurs
will provide the opposition in the West final after running
past the Blazers and their hot-headed point guard, Rod
Strickland.
As for Seattle-San Antonio?
Before the season, Spurs star David Robinson pleaded
with team management to dump the enigmatic Dennis
Rodman. San Antonio got this far last year with Rodman
before getting bumped off by Olajuwon and Houston.
Do the Spurs, minus Rodman, reach the finals?
Nope.
Seattle in six.
The East: Chicago has no problem with Miami in

round one despite Alonzo Mourning. Miami coach Pat
Riley is one of the greatest ever at his profession, but he
has only won a single head-to-head playoff series matchup
with Chicago coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson prevails again. Riley starts to eye the free agent
market.
New York bops Cleveland and its slow, boring brand of
basketball in another first round matchup.
In the other half of the bracket, the Pacers shoot down
the Hawks while Shaquille O'Neal and Orlando make
Detroit's first playoff appearance since 1992 a quick one.
That sets up Chicago-New York and Orlando-Indiana.
The Bulls embarrass the Knicks in four and the Magic
repeats last year's seven-game series victory over the
Pacers.
New York fires coach Jeff Van Gundy and desperately
tries to hire Chuck Daly, who shows good judgment in not
taking the reins of basketball's version of the over-the-hill
gang.
Unless they pick up someone big this offseason, the
Knicks won't win a title this century.
They are done.
A Chicago-Orlando matchup is quite appealing. Despite
the Bulls' record-breaking regular season, one could make
a strong argument that the Magic is the deeper, better
team.
But Chicago has that Michael Jordan guy. That should
be worth something. Jordan missed quite a few shots in
last year's playoff loss to the Magic. He is not likely to
suffer through another series like that one.
The Bulls will prevail in another seven-game series.
The Finals: Chicago versus Seattle. Jordan against
Gary Payton. Scottie Pippen against Shawn Kemp. Luc
Longley against Bill Cartwright. OK, oK ... so the people
at NBC aren't exactly drooling over that last matchup. It
doesn't matter. This series will be interesting enough.
A lot of what happens will depend on Payton, the
Sonics' star guard. If he is too much for the Bulls' Steve
Kerr and Ron Harper to handle, Pippen or Jordan will
have to help out defensively. That could take its toll on
either Pippen's or Jordan's offensive production.
The two teams split a couple of games this season, with
each team winning on its home floor. Home-court
advantage won't hurt the Bulls. They lost just twice this
season at the United Center.
The home edge will be the difference in the seventh
game, as Chicago wins its fourtl title in six years.
But the slightest hope still remains.
Maybe, just maybe, the Suns will be there at the end.
Barkley down the lane. He lays it up and in and is
fouled by Jordan. The crowd here at the United Center is
silent. The Phoenix Suns are about to win their first-ever
NBA title ...
- Barry Sollenberger can be reached
over email at jsol~ umich. edit

O uwon.
sets NBA
Nr block
reCOr
The Associated Press
HOUSTON - Houston Rockets
center H keem Olajuwon set an NBA
record for career blocked shots yes-
terday when he swatted away a shot
by Phoenix's A.C. Green.
Olajuwon has 3,190 blocks in 12
seasons, one more than Kareem,
Abdul-Jabbar had in 19 seasons.
Green, going in for a layup, had the
shot rejected by Olajuwon with 6:04
remaining in the third period of
Houston's game against the Suns. It
was his third blocked shot of the game
and 207th this season.
During a timeout immediately after
setting the record, Olajuwon was pre-
sented a large framed photograph of
him playing against Abdul-Jabbar. He'
also received a standing ovation from
f s' the sellout crowd of 16,285.
He wasted little time getting his
first block of the game and tying the
record, knocking away a shot by Chris
Carr on the third Phoenix possession
of the game and altering a Wayman
Tisdale attempt with 7:24 remaining
-. in the first period.
rr Olajuwon averages 2.87 blocks per
.-,r.game, the fourth-best mark in the
t r 'league.
Mark Eaton ranks third on the
AP PHOTO NBA's career list with 3,064, fo-
If the oft-tatooed Dennis Rodman, a former Detroit Piston, can ask for peace after lowed by Tree Rollins at 2,542 and
head-butting a referee, then maybe the NBA doesn't really have a violence problem. Robert Parish at 2,338.
KempK sHams Yesterday's
NBA Scores

I
t

Detroit finishes in 7th
Pistons draw Magic in first round of playoffs

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The Associated Press
An NBA season marred by violence
ended, appropriately enough, with play-
ers fighting.
Miami and Sacramento clinched the
final two spots Friday night, and the only
thing at stake yesterday, the last day of the
regular season, was seeding positions in
the East.
New York locked up the fifth spot with
a victory, Atlanta got the sixth seed and
Detroit settled for the seventh spot.
Seattle, which securedtheNo. 1 seed in
the West several weeks ago, could face
the suspension of star forward Shawn
Kemp, who was ejected for punching
Tom Hammonds of Denver.
After hitting a 3-point shot midway
through the third quarter for only his
second basket of the game, Kemp ex-
changed words with Hammonds while
runningdown the floor. Each playerthrew
one punch and connected.
"If Shawn gets suspended, it will affect
us,"teammate DetlefSchrempfsaid. "And
if he doesn't it will have no effect at all."
The Sonics, who lost 99-88 to the Nug-
gets, have been eliminated in the first
round the past two seasons.
Fighting-related suspensions were up
more than 300 percent this season, and
the league reacted by increasing penalties
in the past month and threatening even
harsher measures.
Even the mighty Chicago Bulls were
involved in the violence. Backup center
James Edwards fought Ledell Eackles of
the Bullets, although neitherplayer landed
a particularly damaging punch.
Chicago went on to win 103-93 and
finish the season 72-10.
"We'd have liked to have nine lossesor
less than that, but 72-10 sounds great and
we'll settle for that," Scottie Pippen said.
"Of course, our goal this season has al-
ways been to win the title, and that's what
we're looking forward to now."
The Knicks beat the Celtics 122-111 to
lock up the fifth seed in the East. New
York will play Cleveland in the best-of-5
first round.
Atlanta beat Miami 104-92 and will

open the first round on the road against
Indiana.
Atlanta's victory was flashed on the
Pistons' scoreboard duringthe third quar-
ter of the Detroit-Milwaukee game, end-
ing any suspense over what seed the
Pistons would have.
Knowinghisteam would face Orlando,
Detroit coach Doug Collins emptied his
bench in the second half of a 108-92
victory over Milwaukee.
Elsewhere around the league, play-
ers emptied their lockers and execu-
tives prepared to unload underachiev-
ing coaches. Brendan Malone was ex-
pecting to be fired Monday or Tuesday
by the Toronto Raptors, Bernie
Bickerstaff was mulling a similar fate
with the Denver Nuggets and John Lucas
was likely coaching his last game for
the 76ers.
M.L Carr removed any doubt over his
status, announcing he'll returnfor at least
another year as coach and general man-
ager of the Boston Celtics.
At least Butch Beard didn't have to
coach his probable last game for New
Jersey. The Nets were one of only three
teams to have the day off.

Detroit 108, Milwaukee 92
New York 122, Boston 11-
Philadelphia 109, Toronto 105, OT
Chicago 103, Washington 93
Orlando 103, Charlotte 100
Indiana 89, cleveland 88
Houston 118, Phoenix 110
Dallas 103, San Antonio 98
Denver 99, Seattle 88
Atlanta 104, Miami 92
Vancouver 108, L.A. Clippers 101
Playoff Matchups
EASTERN CONFERENCE
No. 1 Chicago vs. No. 8 Miami
No. 2 Orlando vs. No. 7 Detroit
No. 3 Indiana vs. No. 6 Atlanta
No. 4 Cleveland vs. No. 5 New York
WESTERN CONFERENCE
No. 1 Seattle vs. No. 8 Sacramento
No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 7 Phoenix

No. 3
No. 4

Utah v 6 Portland
L A. er vs. o. 5 Houston

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AP PHOTO
The Washington Bullets didn't make the playoffs, but former Wolverine Juwan
Howard, who carried the team for most of the season, is sure to make a bundle on
the free-agent market this off-season after two stellar seasons in Washington.

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