The Philadelphia 76ers have not forgotten that it was the New Jersey Nets who spoiled their chances to repeat as NBA champions. The Nets shocked the 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs last spring.
Even playing without a center Saturday night at Philadelphia, the 76ers didn't forget. Though Moses Malone and Clemon Johnson were out with injuries and the 76ers were forced to use 6-8 forward Sam Williams at center, it was simply no-contest.
Julius Erving took charge. The veteran forward scored 31 points as the 76ers went in front early and coasted, 127-107.
Erving scored 22 points in the first half to help build a 61-52 lead, but it was in the third quarter, using an effective trapping defense, that the 76ers were at their best. They scored 43 points in 12 minutes and zoomed in front, 104-74.
With Maurice Cheeks and Erving making several steals that led to easy baskets, the 76ers made 12 of their first 15 shots in the second half to make it a rout.
Malone has a sprained ankle, while Johnson, his backup, is on the disabled list with a sciatic nerve problem. Also missing was No. 3 guard Clint Richardson, who has a sprained ankle.
Malone hurt his ankle in the opening minute Friday night against New York. After getting it taped, he returned to play 37 minutes. It was so sore Saturday he couldn't play.
"Everybody had to work a little harder and everybody certainly responded," Coach Billy Cunningham said. "Size-wise we knew we had to gamble, so we used the trap most of the game.
"When teams miss a key player like Moses, they'll overcome that for a while. But we couldn't go on for any length of time without Moses."
Cleveland 135, Dallas 128--If this overtime victory at Dallas was a big one for the Cavaliers, it was doubly devastating for the Mavericks.
The loss slowed the Mavericks' bid for first place in the Midwest Division and hurt their chances for the big center Coach Dick Motta has been looking for. The Mavericks have the Cavaliers' first pick in the draft.
The seven teams that fail to make the playoffs will flip to see who gets Patrick Ewing, Georgetown's big center.
When Ben Poquette sank a 14-foot jumper with 55 seconds left in overtime to break a 128-128 tie and World B. Free followed with a three-point bomb, the Cavaliers moved closer to a playoff berth. With Atlanta losing at Seattle, the Cavaliers have a one-game lead in the battle for the last playoff spot in the East.
The Cavaliers, who had lost three of their previous four games after winning seven in a row, thought they had the game won in regulation when Poquette made a rebound layup to give them a 120-118 lead with two seconds left. But, after a timeout, Rolando Blackman sank an 18-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Free led all scorers with 30 points. John Bagley had a big game for the Cavaliers. He had 17 points and a Reunion Arena record 19 assists.
Milwaukee 125, Phoenix 96--Terry Cummings scored 17 points in the first half at Milwaukee to help the Bucks build a 63-45 lead on their way to their sixth victory in a row.
The Suns, missing star Larry Nance and center James Edwards because of injuries, lost Walter Davis because of a sprained ankle in the second quarter.
New York 116, Indiana 114--The Knicks blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter at New York but were saved embarrassment when James Bailey sank two free throws with six seconds remaining.
A backcourt steal by Darrell Walker from Jerry Sichting set up the play on which Steve Stipanovich fouled Bailey.
Seattle 108, Atlanta 99--The SuperSonics haven't given up hope of making the playoffs yet. Jack Sikma scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter at Seattle as the Sonics moved within 2 1/2 games of Phoenix in the battle for the last playoff position in the West.
The Hawks held Seattle scoreless for three minutes in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 68-62. But Sikma and Tim McCormick led a surge that gave the Sonics an 82-66 bulge after three quarters.