NBA Roundup : Pistons Cool Off Bullets, 104-98
The Detroit Pistons just about assured the Washington Bullets of a position in the lottery and a chance to pick the top college player in the draft by beating the Bullets, 104-98, Sunday night at Auburn Hills, Mich.
Dennis Rodman, the league’s most accurate shooter, came off the bench to make all five of his field-goal attempts and his four free throws to reduce the Pistons’ magic number to one. One more Detroit victory or Cleveland defeat assures the Pistons of the best record in the National Basketball Assn. and the home-court advantage in each round of the playoffs.
Two months ago the Bullets seemed certain not to qualify for the playoffs. But a rejuvenated Bernard King led the surge that enabled the Bullets to challenge Boston for the last playoff spot, although it appears they will fall short.
Sunday, the tough Detroit defense harassed King and he was only 1 for 10 and the Bullets fell 2 1/2 games behind Boston with only four games to play.
Isiah Thomas, scoreless in the first two games he played with his broken finger, found the range for five field goals to help the Pistons win their 18th in a row at home.
Steve Colter tried to keep the Bullets in the battle, scoring 27 points, 17 in the last quarter.
Houston 114, Dallas 112--When they built a 22-point lead in the second quarter at Dallas, the Mavericks were thinking maybe they still had a shot at the playoffs.
But when Akeem Olajuwon brought the Rockets back to earn an overtime victory, it all but eliminated the Mavericks.
Olajuwon had 34 points, including a jumper with 34 seconds left that tied the score 104-104 and sent the game into overtime. Olajuwon also had 19 rebounds.
One more Dallas defeat or a Portland victory will clinch the final playoff berth in the West for Portland.
Last spring, when Dallas finished only one game behind Midwest Division champion Denver, the Mavericks won the game that kept Houston out of the playoffs.
Roy Tarpley, in his third game back, had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Mavericks. The Mavericks were without Sam Perkins, who has a wrist injury.
Cleveland 111, Chicago 92--This probable playoff preview was little more than a warm-up for the Cavaliers at Richfield, Ohio. With Larry Nance breaking the game open near the end of the first half with 10 points in a 12-2 run, the Cavaliers made it 5-0 against the Bulls this season.
It was the sixth loss in a row for the Bulls. Michael Jordan had 22 points, but sat out the last 14 minutes.
The Cavaliers have won 31 of their last 32 home games.
Philadelphia 115, New York 112--In another probable preview of the playoffs, the Knicks trailed by 26 points in the first half at Philadelphia, then just missed.
A 15-foot jumper by Patrick Ewing with 10 seconds left put New York ahead, 112-111. But Charles Barkley made two free throws and Mike Gminski did the same to end Knicks’ hopes. The 76ers finished 4-2 against the Knicks.
Milwaukee 100, New Jersey 96--It was a tough struggle at East Rutherford, N.J., but the Bucks hung on to win and remain in the battle for home-court advantage in the first round.
The Bucks trail Atlanta by one game in the race for fourth place in the East. Both teams have four games left. They play each other at Milwaukee Wednesday night.