NBA Roundup : Mavericks Cut Down Rockets

A growing number of people believe the Houston Rockets, with their improving Twin Towers (Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon), will make it to the championship series this summer.

But maybe, they are a bit premature. First, the Rockets must learn to control their own division--the Midwest. Currently, they are only second-best to Denver.

Although Sampson scored 20 points and Olajuwon 17 Tuesday night at Houston, the Rockets fell before the Dallas Mavericks, 124-115, to drop 2 1/2 games behind the Nuggets.

The Mavericks went in front early and never trailed. They led by 19 early in the third period and, when the Rockets threatened in the last quarter, Rolando Blackman and Sam Perkins regained command for the Mavericks.

The Rockets couldn't stop Perkins, who finished with 28 points, Mark Aguirre (27) or Blackman (21).

"We played well within our system and ran our offense when we had to," Coach Dick Motta said. "We hit our shots at important moments."

Although Sampson at 7-4 towered over Perkins (6-9), the biggest forward in basketball scored only two points in the first half. Perkins did an outstanding job of denying him the ball.

Milwaukee 129, New York 118--Sidney Moncrief scored 30 points at New York and the Bucks won their fourth in a row by breaking open a close game with a 25-11 spurt in the fourth quarter.

Although Darrell Walker had 31 points and Bernard King 30, the Knicks lost their fifth in a row.

Kansas City 116, Portland 96--Eddie Johnson scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half at Kansas City, and the Kings ended the Trail Blazers' five-game winning streak.

The Trail Blazers had a 40-39 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Kings went on a 14-0 spurt in 4:45 to build a 53-40 lead.

When the Trail Blazers cut the lead to 72-70 early in the third quarter, Johnson led a 10-2 spurt that put the Kings out of danger. In the last quarter the lead once reached 26 points.

Atlanta 107, Golden State 104--On a night when he described his offense as "offensive", Dominique Wilkins played superbly on defense in the Hawks' win at Atlanta.

Wilkins scored a season-low 13 points, but he spent much of the night guarding Warrior sharpshooter Purvis Short, who scored only 17 points.

The Warriors fought back from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to pull within two points with 15 seconds left. But Wilkins, after making one of two free-throw attempts, then blocked a shot to prevent the Warriors from getting closer.

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