NBA ROUNDUP : By Any Name, Olajuwon Is Strong
The Houston Rockets keep insisting that Hakeem Olajuwon, who as Akeem Olajuwon missed 26 games because of an eye injury, is still not back to his best form.
When the talented center, who has played nine games since recovering from surgery, gets all the way back, the Rockets will be something.
Even with Olajuwon slightly below par, the Rockets are playing the best ball in the West. They stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 135-128 victory Friday night at Phoenix to cool off the Suns. Phoenix, 23-5 at home, had won seven in a row.
Sleepy Floyd came off the bench to score 37 points as Houston came on strong in the second half to win for the 19th time in the past 23 games.
The Rockets trail San Antonio in the Midwest Division by three games and second-place Utah by two games.
Olajuwon played 33 minutes and contributed 19 points and 16 rebounds.
“He’s playing fine,” Coach Don Chaney of the Rockets said, “but he’s still not quite there. He’s a different player. He’s passing so well.”
Floyd was 13 for 19 in only 27 minutes. He scored 17 points in the second quarter and 17 in the fourth.
Kevin Johnson kept the Suns close most of the way. He scored 36 points and had 12 assists.
“I said that I thought Houston was playing the best basketball, and they are. Nobody has played better against us than Houston did here,” Phoenix Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said.
Portland 106, Utah 96--The Trail Blazers came out of their slump with an impressive victory at Salt Lake City.
Clyde Drexler had 26 points and Terry Porter scored nine of his 18 points in the last 93 seconds to clinch the victory.
Portland had lost six of its previous eight games. The defeat was Utah’s fifth at home in 31 games.
The Trail Blazers led, 83-73, with 9:13 remaining but only 95-93 with two minutes to go. Then Porter took charge.
Portland remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
Chicago 105, Charlotte 92--Michael Jordan, playing a few minutes more than usual, scored 34 points and had eight assists to lead the Bulls to their sixth victory in a row. The Bulls improved their record to 47-15, the best in the league, and increased their lead in the Central Division to 8 1/2 games over Detroit.
“We were aware they have beaten some good teams here (at Charlotte),” Jordan said. “I thought we turned the game around with strong defense in the last quarter.”
Charlotte, which trailed by a point at halftime, scored only 40 points in the second half.
Boston 94, Washington 86--Bernard King has missed the last two games because of a strained lower back. The Bullets have lost both of them and 10 of their last 11.
Larry Bird overcame a slow start to score 19 points and grab 11 rebounds at Washington to lead the Celtics to their sixth victory in the past seven games.
In the absence of their leading scorer, the Bullets again turned to Pervis Ellison. He responded with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Bird missed his first six shots, then was eight for 10.
Atlanta 127, Dallas 117--The Hawks figure that if they can win a few on the road they have a chance to finish second in the Central Division.
John Battle came off the bench to score 28 points in 30 minutes at Dallas, and the Hawks won handily. It was their 12th victory in 31 road games.
With 18 games left, they trail second place Detroit by 3 1/2 games.
Philadelphia 105, Miami 103--Rickey Green came through in overtime at Philadelphia and the 76ers finally overcame the Heat.
Green scored eight of his 14 points in the extra session.
The Heat, which had 28 points and 11 assists from Sherman Douglas, led, 87-78, with five minutes left in regulation. But, having lost in double overtime to New York Thursday night, the Heat finally wilted.
Minnesota 100, Seattle 96--Tony Campbell scored 26 points at Seattle as the Timberwolves scored an overtime victory, only their sixth in 31 road games.
The SuperSonics, who lost their fourth in a row, led by 10 points in the fourth quarter.