A couple of hours after they sent Ralph Sampson home to recuperate from two ankle sprains, the Houston Rockets lost their other Tower, Akeem Olajuwon.
The Rockets were in a tight battle with the Knicks Tuesday night at New York when Olajuwon fell to the floor after a collision with Bill Cartwright of the Knicks.
Olajuwon was carried off with a knee and ankle injury. With 7:37 left in the game, Olajuwon was having a tremendous night (34 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocks and 6 assists), and the Rockets trailed, 82-81. Without either of their Twin Towers, the Rockets couldn't keep up and lost, 102-93.
X-rays showed no tears or breaks, but the Rocket star will miss tonight's game at Indianapolis.
Coach Bill Fitch of the Rockets expressed concern.
"If he misses even five games it's like a five-game forfeit because he's been carrying us. Why does it have to be him?
"I don't want to minimize the seriousness of the situation, but I don't know when Sampson is coming back or when Olajuwon is coming back. Until they do, we're going to have to play a different ballgame."
Sampson has missed all but two games this season because of ankle problems. The Rockets, feeling the effects of the injuries, have fallen to 6-6.
Gerald Henderson scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, most of them after Olajuwon departed, to lead the Knicks to their fourth win in 14 games.
Philadelphia 102, Boston 100--When Charles Barkley returned to the 76er lineup despite warnings from doctors Saturday night, he was tentative.
But when he came off the bench in the second quarter of this game at Philadelphia, it was with authority. Barkley, who is slowly recovering from a spleen injury that kept him out of nine games, played 32 minutes, scored 17 points, had 11 rebounds and made 5 assists.
His two free throws with 12 seconds left gave Philadelphia a 101-99 lead. Larry Bird, who played 42 minutes despite a sprained ankle, missed a three-point shot. Roy Hinson rebounded, was fouled and made one free throw. With four seconds left, the Celtics set up another Bird three-pointer, but he was fouled. He made one free throw, then missed the second deliberately, but Hinson again grabbed the rebound as time ran out.
Scott Wedman made his first appearance of the season for the injury-riddled Celtics and played 12 minutes, but he contributed only two missed shots.
Kevin McHale, as he has so often, led the Celtics with 29 points and 15 rebounds. He made 12 of 18 shots and had 5 assists. But the Celtics' almost nonexistent bench played a total of 41 minutes and scored only 11 points.
"I felt a little better tonight," said Barkley, who seemed all right although he fell hard three times. "My stamina was a little better."
Washington 111, Portland 99--The Bullets improved their record to 6-7 in this game at Landover, Md. They have won the six in which Moses Malone has scored 30 or more and have lost when he hasn't.
Malone dominated throughout. He had 32 points, making 11 of 15 shots and all 10 free throw attempts. He also had 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
San Antonio 117, New Jersey 99--Alvin Robertson, rapidly developing into one of the finest guards in the league, scored 21 points and had 8 assists at San Antonio to lead the Spurs to their fifth win in 13 games.
Ed Nealy and Jon Sundvold came off the bench to score 19 and 18 points, respectively, for the Spurs.
Golden State 111, Utah 106--Sleepy Floyd sank two free throws with 10 seconds left at Oakland, then stole the ball while the Jazz was trying to set up a three-point shot. He was fouled and sank two more free throws after the final whistle. Utah is 0-5 on the road.
Sacramento 123, Phoenix 108--Otis Thorpe scored 27 points and had 9 rebounds at Sacramento to lead the Kings to an easy victory. Walter Davis scored 28 points for the Suns.