If the only time people on network television get to see Charles Barkley is when he faces the Boston Celtics, they may never find out just how good he really is.
Barkley seems to get lost trying to cope with the Celtics' powerful front line. But against lesser teams, Barkley is often fantastic.
The bulky 6-6 forward is in his third National Basketball Assn. season, and he has developed into a real force.
Barkley was at his best Tuesday night at New York in leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 108-103 victory to end the Knicks' six-game home winning streak.
Against the Celtics Sunday in a game carried by CBS, Barkley showed only flashes of his brilliance. The NBA's most accurate shooter was only 6 for 15 from the field and had only 18 points and 11 rebounds.
But Barkley dominated the Knicks' two giants, Patrick Ewing and Bill Cartwright. He made 6 of 11 shots and finished with 25 points, 23 rebounds, 7 steals and 7 assists.
The 76ers led through most of the first half, but when the Knicks went on a 22-4 spurt early in the second half, they moved ahead, 74-65.
Barkley rallied the 76ers, and when he beat the buzzer ending the third quarter with a three-point basket, the game was tied, 80-80. The 76ers scored seven of the first nine points in the last quarter and were never headed.
Barkley, celebrating his selection to the All-Star team for the first time, had 14 rebounds in the first half, one more than the Knicks.
"It seemed that whenever we missed, Charles was there to grab the rebound and put it back in," 76er Coach Matt Guokas said. "He played a totally unselfish game. You always knew he was in the game in one phase or another."
Nine of Barkley's rebounds were at the offensive end.
"I wanted to rebound well tonight because in the last couple of games I haven't," Barkley said. "In the beginning, I concentrated solely on rebounding. I enjoyed making another three-pointer. There's something special about it, and getting two in one game is great."
Atlanta 114, Indiana 98--In the absence of injured Randy Wittman and Mike McGee, Hawk Coach Mike Fratello has had to play his ace, Dominique Wilkins, at guard.
Although Wilkins says he doesn't like playing guard, the Hawks are 2-0 with Wilkins in the backcourt. He scored 33 points, had 10 rebounds and 6 assists at Atlanta.
His two-game average as a guard is 37 points.
"I just want Randy and Mike to return so I can go back to forward," Wilkins said.
Antoine Carr, getting playing time at forward, scored a career-high 18 points for the Hawks.
Washington 118, Dallas 113--Moses Malone did his usual number on the Mavericks at Dallas.
Although he was a little below his lifetime average against Dallas, Malone scored 23 points and had 11 rebounds. When he was with the 76ers, Malone averaged 29.8 points against the Mavericks.
Malone's jump shot and four free throws in the last 27 seconds clinched the victory.
"Moses hurt us just as he always has," Coach Dick Motta of the Mavericks said. "He can still play."
Mark Aguirre became the first Maverick to score 10,000 points. "The 'W' is what counts," Aguirre said.
Jeff Malone also had 23 for the Bullets, who stopped the Mavericks' two-game winning streak and handed them just their fourth loss in 20 home games.
Utah 92, Houston 88--A pitiful display of free-throw shooting cost the Rockets at Houston.
The Jazz shot 75% from the line (33-44), and the Rockets were 46.8%, making only 22 of 47 attempts. Although he had 32 points, Houston's Akeem Olajuwon was only 8 for 18 from the line, and Ralph Sampson was 4 for 10.
Boston 105, Chicago 97--Steady Kevin McHale scored 30 points at Chicago as the Celtics beat the Bulls for the seventh time in a row. Dennis Johnson and Robert Parish each sank two clutch free throws in the last minute to clinch the victory.
Although he scored 30 points, Michael Jordan, the NBA's scoring leader, was battling the flu. He was only 13 for 34 from the field.
San Antonio 118, Detroit 107--The Spurs had to survive 17-for-19 shooting from the field in the first quarter at San Antonio to win their second in a row.
Because Jon Sundvold made 14 of his 22 points in the first quarter, the Pistons led only 37-35. When they turned cold in the third quarter the Spurs took charge.
Milwaukee 119, Golden State 115--The Warriors wiped out all but one point of a 24-point deficit with a rally at Oakland but lost when Craig Hodges sank a 15-foot jumper with 37 seconds remaining.
Purvis Short, who missed 33 games with a torn ligament in his knee, returned to action for the Warriors. He played 23 minutes and scored 10 points.
Ricky Pierce scored 30 for the Bucks, including two free throws with three seconds left.
Sacramento 118, New Jersey 115--Otis Thorpe's dunk with 18 seconds left helped the Kings hand the Nets their sixth straight loss on the road.
The dunk allowed the Kings to turn back a fierce fourth-quarter rally by the Nets, who trailed, 100-83, with only 6:45 left in the game. Kevin McKenna hit a pair of three-point shots as the Nets pulled within 115-111 with 32 seconds to go.
Thorpe's dunk increased the Sacramento lead to 117-111.
New Jersey's Orlando Woolridge scored a game-high 22 points and McKenna scored 17. Thorpe led Sacramento with 21 points and Reggie Theus scored 20.