Charles Barkley scored 36 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns withstood a rally by Golden State for a 111-104 victory in the opening game of their best-of-five first-round Western Conference series Friday in Phoenix.
The Warriors played according to their recent history. They have lost 19 consecutive games at Phoenix.
Kevin Johnson added 24 points for the Suns, who are trying to reach the NBA finals for the second consecutive season.
Billy Owens scored 27 points and Latrell Sprewell had 24 for Golden State.
Barkley had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the first quarter as the Suns raced to a 38-23 lead.
They maintained their lead, holding a 92-80 advantage heading into the final quarter, which the Warriors began with a 15-2 run. That gave them a 95-94 lead, which came on two free throws by Keith Jennings with 7:30 to play.
Dan Majerle then hit a three-pointer, Phoenix’s first field goal of the quarter, for a 97-95 lead the Suns would not relinquish.
Owens had a dunk to bring the Warriors within 107-104 with 47 seconds to play. After Cedric Ceballos missed a jump shot, Golden State had the ball on a three-on-one fast break, but Majerle intercepted a pass by Jennings intended for Sprewell, who was wide open for a three-pointer.
Johnson then missed two free throws with 16 seconds to play, but Barkley got the offensive rebound and tipped it in to seal the victory.
New York 91, New Jersey 80--Patrick Ewing, surrounded by defenders most of the game, led a decisive 10-0 fourth-quarter run and combined with Charles Smith to boost the Knicks to a victory in Game 1 at New York.
“We limited them to one shot, and Charles and Patrick made some timely baskets,” Knick Coach Pat Riley said. “We don’t try to trick anybody. We just get the ball to our strongest players.”
Ewing and Smith scored 11 points each in New York’s 28-point fourth quarter. Ewing finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds and Smith had 17 points.
“I’m happy, but I’m not overly excited about my performance,” said the 6-foot-10 Smith, who has been criticized in the media and booed at Madison Square Garden for soft play. “Coach Riley has really pushed me to get back into the offense. I’m not concerned with the crowd. If I have to worry about what they think instead of winning the game, I’m in trouble.”
The teams set an NBA record for fewest points in the first half of a playoff game as the Knicks took a 35-33 halftime lead. The previous mark was 69 points, by Syracuse and Ft. Wayne in 1955 and Seattle and Utah in 1993.
The Knicks, with Ewing missing 13 of his first 17 shots, trailed, 68-64, before he started the winning burst with a three-point play. Smith put New York ahead with a layup, and when he missed a free throw, Ewing made it 71-68 with an emphatic rebound dunk.
Ewing finished the run with an assist to a wide-open Greg Anthony for a three-pointer, giving the Knicks a 74-68 lead with 7:03 left.
Derrick Coleman scored 27 points for the Nets, who defeated New York in four of five regular-season games.
Chicago 104, Cleveland 96--Scottie Pippen scored 31 points and Scott Williams had 13 of his 21 in the final quarter at Chicago as the Bulls began their quest for a fourth consecutive NBA title, beating the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers played without the heart of their inside game as John Williams, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance watched from the bench in street clothes because of injuries.
Mark Price, Cleveland’s leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, managed only nine points. Gerald Wilkins led Cleveland with 23 points.
Pippen, who became the Bulls’ leader when Michael Jordan retired and took up baseball, led a third-quarter surge and then had two spectacular baskets in the fourth quarter. He also finished with 12 rebounds. His 31 points were one short of his playoff high.
Houston 114, Portland 104--Vernon Maxwell broke out of a shooting drought with 10 consecutive points late in the game, leading the Rockets to a opening-game victory at Houston.
The Rockets were protecting a 97-95 lead with 5:20 to play when Maxwell--who scored 24 points and made five three-pointers--started his charge. He hit consecutive three-point baskets and then two jump shots, giving Houston a 107-98 lead with 2:39 to play.
Maxwell made his first four baskets of the game, but then missed six of his next seven before heating up again.
The teams combined for 15 three-pointers to match a playoff record, and Terry Porter’s four second-quarter three-pointers equaled the record for one quarter.