With one of the Houston Rockets' Twin Towers temporarily closed for repairs, most of the burden has fallen to Ralph Sampson.
Sampson shouldered the load again Friday night, pushing the Rockets to a 111-104 victory over the Mavericks at Dallas.
The 7-foot-4 Sampson has moved to center and Friday scored a season-high 38 points, including 22 in the first half, pulled down 15 rebounds, including 10 offensive, and blocked 4 shots as the Rockets broke a two-game losing streak.
Center Akeem Olajuwon will be lost to the Rockets for another 10 days to two weeks with strained knee ligaments and Sampson knows that he now must accept the major portion of the offensive responsibility.
He did so Friday by playing the entire game.
"I'm going to have to go all out," said Sampson. "But I have to watch myself with Akeem gone. I don't want to be dead when Akeem gets back.
"I have to get my rest--sleep well and eat well."
Said Houston Coach Bill Fitch: "We have to get that kind of performance from Ralph every night. And I think we were ready from the word go tonight.
"We thought our offense would take care of itself if we swarmed on defense. I think that was the best scrambling defense we have played all year."
Lewis Lloyd added 18 for the Rockets and Robert Reid scored 12. Dallas was led by Mark Aguirre with 28 and Rolando Blackman with 17.
New York 117, Seattle 107--Louis Orr scored 26 points, Gerald Wilkins 23 and Ken Bannister 20 at New York as the Knicks broke a seven-game losing streak.
"All wins give us a lift in some sort of way," said Orr. "But at this point in the season, we'll take any wins we can get."
Xavier McDaniel scored 20 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead Seattle. Tim McCormick added 21, Al Wood 18 and Tom Chambers 15.
The Knicks, who had just 10 players in uniform, played without Patrick Ewing and Ernie Grunfeld, Bill Cartwright, Pat Cummings and Bernard King, all out with injuries.
Seattle's Jack Sikma missed the game with a knee injury.
Sacramento 118, Phoenix 110--Eddie Johnson scored 36 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, at Phoenix as the Kings won their third straight game.
The Kings used a 12-4 spurt at the beginning of the final period to turn a three-point deficit into a five-point lead on a 10-foot shot by Johnson with 8:33 left. The Kings shot 81% from the field in the final quarter.
Reggie Theus added 22 points for the Kings, John Drew 18, Terry Tyler 16 and Mark Olberding 10.
Walter Davis led Phoenix with 31 points. James Edwards added 23 points, Jay Humphries 16, and Bernard Thompson 12.
Philadelphia 97, Washington 87--Charles Barkley scored 26 points and grabbed 21 rebounds for the victorious 76ers at Philadelphia.
The 76ers used a 15-1 spurt at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth to break out of a 60-60 tie and take control of the game. A Barkley dunk gave the 76ers a 75-61 lead in the final period and the Bullets got no closer than seven points after that.
Maurice Cheeks scored 23 points and Moses Malone added 22 points and 21 rebounds for Philadelphia.
Chicago 108, Portland 96--Gene Banks scored 26 points and Charles Oakley and Sidney Green added 18 each at Chicago as the Bulls handed the Trail Blazers their eighth straight loss.
The victory was the Bulls' second straight, marking the first time they had won consecutive games since Jan. 2.
The contest was a makeup of Thursday's scheduled game, which was postponed when the Bulls were unable to fly into Chicago because of fog.
Atlanta 106, Indiana 98--Dominique Wilkins scored 38 points and Randy Wittman 20 to pace the Hawks at Atlanta.
Kevin Willis scored 18 points and had 17 rebounds for the Hawks.
Herb Williams led Indiana with 33 points and 14 rebounds.