Patrick Ewing has noticed something different about the New York Knicks. So has the rest of the National Basketball Assn.
One change is the play of Ewing. The 7-0 center is beginning to fulfill his promise, and the Knicks are starting to win.
Ewing scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter Saturday night at New York to enable the Knicks to beat the stubborn Sacramento Kings, 119-115. It was the seventh win in the last nine games for the Knicks after they opened the season 5-21.
The Knicks were playing their fourth game in five nights and this was one of their least impressive performances in the last three weeks. It took Ewing's spree, in which he scored 10 points in the last 3:06, to give them a third win in the four games.
"There's a different atmosphere now," Ewing said. "There's not as much pressure as before."
Although he won rookie of the year honors while playing 50 games last season, Ewing, the bonus pick in the 1985 draft, did not live up to expectations.
He pouted early this season when Hubie Brown wanted him to move to forward to make room for Bill Cartwright. When Bob Hill replaced Brown as coach, Ewing went back to center and Cartwright became a forward.
"Patrick is finally getting into NBA condition," Hill said. "He's running up and down and playing tough at both ends. He's catching the ball inside and knows we're calling his play a lot.
"He's practicing very hard and his confidence is building. He's done a terrific job. I'm one of his biggest fans."
In the last four games, while playing more than 37 minutes per game, he has averaged 30 points and nine rebounds.
"I always thought I was in shape," Ewing said. "I just had to get used to the pounding."
Hill also praised reserve guard Trent Tucker, who was 6 for 7 from the field in the second half. It was Tucker's jumper with 4:44 left that gave the Knicks the lead for good, 100-98.
Detroit 118, Boston 101--The Celtics, without their best player, Larry Bird, were able to win a couple of games at home. But without Bird and Danny Ainge, it was a different story on the road.
Adrian Dantley had 25 points and Isiah Thomas 21 at Pontiac, Mich., as the Pistons took charge in the second quarter and breezed to their 12th win in the last 14 games.
Bird and Ainge both have back problems.
Despite a 37-point, 12-rebound performance by Kevin McHale, the Celtics, who don't have a good bench, were outmanned. They had won seven in a row.
Washington 117, Philadelphia 111--His former teammates bring out the best in Moses Malone. The veteran center scored a season-high 39 points and had 17 rebounds at Landover, Md.
In the Bullets' previous game against the 76ers, who traded him to Washington last summer, Malone had 28 points and 21 rebounds.
"All I've got to say is the 76ers played great, but we won the ballgame," said Malone.
"We're not over the hump yet," said Bullet Coach Keevin Loughery after his team reached .500. "But I'm very pleased with winning three out of four in a five-night stretch."
Chicago 119, New Jersey 109-- Michael Jordan had a poor shooting night (8 for 24), but the other Chicago starters all reached double figures for the first time this season to take up the slack at Chicago.
Often, only Jordan has more than nine points. But, Charles Oakley had 21, Brad Sellers 20 and 13 rebounds, Earl Cureton 15 and John Paxson 17 as the Bulls won their fourth straight.
The Nets were without Mike Gminski, who injured a knee in Friday's loss to Portland.
"We had to play our fourth game in five nights," Net Coach Dave Wohl said. "We may have lost Tony Brown (knee injury in fourth quarter) in addition to Gminski. We were worn out."
Houston 106, Dallas 96--Akeem Olajuwon scored 25 points and grabbed 20 rebounds at Houston and the Rockets let the Mavericks know they are still around.
The Mavericks' lead in the Midwest Division was cut to one-half game over Utah, while the Rockets, showing signs of emerging from a long slump, trail by six games.
Atlanta 129, Cleveland 104--Dominique Wilkins had 32 points and Doc Rivers had 19 points and 10 assists at Atlanta as the Hawks avenged their most embarrassing loss of the season.
On Dec. 29 at Richfield, Ohio, the Hawks lost to the Cavaliers, 107-106, after wasting an 18-point lead.
"We came out ready to play," said Tree Rollins, who blocked five shots. "That loss at Cleveland was the low point of our season."
Utah 105, Indiana 96--Karl Malone had 22 points and 13 rebounds at Salt Lake City, and the Jazz moved within half a game of first place in the Midwest Division.
The Pacers made a game of it until Chuck Person and Steve Stipanovich got into foul trouble in the middle of the third period.
Denver 127, Phoenix 120--If he wasn't out of Coach Doug Moe's doghouse after helping the Nuggets win Friday night at Dallas, Mike Evans definitely emerged at Denver.
Evans scored nine of his 21 points in overtime to lead the Nuggets to another victory.
Larry Nance of the Suns sank two free throws with 11 seconds left in regulation to send it into overtime.