NBA ROUNDUP : Barkley’s Ejection Sparks the Suns
First, Charles Barkley slapped New York’s Charles Oakley in the face.
Then, the Suns slapped the Knicks around, 92-78, Sunday in Phoenix.
Barkley and Oakley, two All-Star forwards, were ejected, and Kevin Johnson took over in the fourth quarter as the Suns pulled ahead to pin a fourth consecutive loss on New York.
Johnson scored 10 points during a decisive 14-1 run in the final quarter, but didn’t take any bows.
“They missed a lot of shots, got in foul trouble early and that allowed us to take them to the basket,” said Johnson, who had 12 of his 29 points and four of his five rebounds in the fourth quarter.
Barkley slapped Oakley with 45 seconds to play before halftime, and Oakley missed a retaliatory swing.
Cedric Ceballos had 16 points and 12 rebounds. He said Barkley might have slapped Oakley to fire up the Suns, whose 107-87 loss to Utah on Friday night marked their lowest point total this season.
“I don’t know if it was deliberate, but Charles is a team player. He’ll do whatever it takes to help the team,” Ceballos said.
Barkley said he wanted to let Oakley, who wrapped him up on the baseline, know that he shouldn’t hold.
“I think the ref overreacted,” Barkley said.
Oakley said Barkley told him he wasn’t serious.
“I don’t joke around like that on the court,” Oakley said. “If he called me before the game, I could joke around, but during the game I like to try to be serious.”
The game was tied, 68-68, before Ceballos converted a free throw and Johnson scored the next 10 Sun points, boosting them into a 79-69 lead.
“We played our game until the fourth,” said Patrick Ewing, who had 29 points and 17 rebounds for the Knicks. “Then we let it get away.”
The Knicks’ four-game losing streak has allowed Orlando to get back into the Atlantic Division race. New York leads the division by two games after having a 7 1/2-game advantage on Feb. 6.
Orlando 114, Charlotte 103--Shaquille O’Neal, playing on a sore knee, scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Magic at home in its seventh consecutive victory.
Nick Anderson added 18 points and eight rebounds for Orlando, and Anfernee Hardaway had 15 points and nine assists.
Charlotte has lost five in a row and 13 of 14. Dell Curry led the Hornets with 26 points. Frank Brickowski, playing his first game for Charlotte since being acquired from Milwaukee, had 23.
New Jersey 117, Dallas 90--Chris Morris scored a season-high 27 points and the Nets held Dallas to 12 points in the second quarter at East Rutherford, N.J.
Kevin Edwards had 17 points and Kenny Anderson 14 points and nine assists as the Nets won for the 15th time in 21 games and denied the Mavericks their first three-victory trip since March 1990.
The Mavericks, 2-3 on their five-game, seven-day trip, were led by Jamal Mashburn’s 32 points.
Minnesota 107, Golden State 100--Isaiah Rider scored 25 points as the Timberwolves overcame a 32-point, 16-rebound effort by the Warriors’ Chris Webber in Minneapolis.
Chris Smith scored 21 points and made six free throws in the final 14.7 seconds as the Timberwolves snapped a five-game losing streak despite 10 turnovers by Christian Laettner.
Webber scored 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors closed to 97-93 with 2:59 to play, but Minnesota’s Doug West hit three key baskets down the stretch.
Portland 104, Denver 97--Clyde Drexler scored 22 points and Rod Strickland 19 at Portland as the Trail Blazers won their sixth consecutive game.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf led all scorers with 28 points.