The New York Knicks, beset with injuries from the start this season, don't win often. When they do, it's almost always because Bernard King has done a little more than usual.
The shot ended the Knicks' five-game losing streak. It was only the 21st win in 64 games for the Knicks. Before their entire front line except for King was wiped out by injuries, the Knicks were expected to be one of the better teams. Instead, it has taken their best efforts just to stay competitive.
In this one, the Knicks needed a 42-point performance from King. They also needed 6-9 rookie center Ken Bannister to outscore Moses Malone, 24-19.
The Knicks just missed winning it in regulation and in the first overtime. With five seconds left in regulation, Andrew Toney sank a three-point basket to tie it 111-111. With 12 seconds left in the first five-minute extra session, Maurice Cheeks sank two free throws to tie it, 120-120.
It appeared the 76ers had staved off defeat again when Julius Erving tied the second overtime by making two free throws with 12 seconds left. The Knicks, knowing the 76ers would converge on King, set up Rory Sparrow to take the shot as time was running out in the second overtime. He missed, but King came up with the rebound in the lane to give him a triple double and put the short jumper into the hoop to end it. He finished with 10 rebounds and 13 assists in 52 minutes.
"In clutch situations, I'm supposed to deliver and I usually do," King said. "It really was intense out there, wasn't it? I'll remember it for a long time."
Billy Cunningham couldn't fault his team's effort. "Moses outrebounded him, 21-5, but it took Bannister's best game to beat us."
Houston 123, San Antonio 117--George Gervin, one of basketball's most prolific scorers, has been relegated to a sixth-man role. The four-time scoring champion, now in his 13th season, came off the bench in this game at San Antonio.
In another losing effort by the Spurs, Gervin played 24 minutes, scored only 6 points and had 7 assists.
His 20-foot jumper early in the last quarter tied the game, but Lewis Lloyd and Rodney McCray paced a winning Houston rally.
Utah 111, Chicago 105--Darrell Griffith exploded for 40 points at Chicago to help the Jazz overcome a 19-point second quarter deficit.
The Bulls, led by Orlando Woolridge with 35 points, built a 36-17 lead in the second quarter but couldn't hold it.
Denver 126, Indiana 116--After playing four heart-stoppers in a row, the Nuggets finally had a "laugher" at Denver. They jumped to an early 16-point lead and it was never a contest.
Lafeyette Lever came through with an unusual triple double for the Nuggets. He had a club record 10 steals, 15 assists and 13 points.
The Nuggets, who had won three of four games which came down to the wire, maintained their four-game lead over Houston in the Midwest Division.
Detroit 115, Atlanta 113--It took a pair of free throws by Kelly Tripucka with five seconds left at Atlanta to offset a career-high 48 points by Dominique Wilkins.
Three times in the closing minutes Wilkins sank jumpers to tie the score before Tripucka won the game.
Isiah Thomas had a big game for the Pistons. He scored 23 points, had 16 assists and 6 steals.
Seattle 93, Washington 92--Tom Chambers climaxed one of his best NBA performances with a dunk in the closing minute at Landover, Md. to assure the SuperSonics the victory.
Chambers, who came off the bench four minutes after the start and stayed in the rest of the way, had 29 points and 14 rebounds.
Golden State 118, Phoenix 115--Purvis Short scored 12 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter at Phoenix to lead the Warriors to only their fourth road win in 32 games.
Short, who scored 28 in the second half.