It's downright scary to think of Charles Barkley being better than he already is.
Barkley had 27 of his 40 points in the first half and added 11 in the final 4:08 as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the New York Knicks, 106-96, Thursday night at New York.
But Barkley, who added 17 rebounds, isn't satisfied.
"I want to get better and better," said Barkley, who leads the NBA in field-goal percentage and is second in scoring and rebounding. "I don't set goals for myself except to just be better than last year."
Barkley made 13 of 19 shots, including 11 of 13 inside three-point range. His 17 rebounds included 6 at the offensive end.
Barkley scored 19 points, including two three-point goals and a three-point play, in the last 8:36 of the first quarter, leading the 76ers to a 32-22 advantage. A three-point goal by David Wingate, who scored 15 points, and another three-point play by Barkley extended the margin to 47-32 with 3:30 remaining in the first half.
The Knicks, who got 19 points and 12 assists from rookie Mark Jackson, drew within six points twice in the third quarter, but Barkley's dunk with 2:40 left started a 10-0 spurt that rebuilt Philadelphia's lead to 79-63 after three quarters.
New York rallied again, closing the deficit to 91-86 with 4:30 to go, but Barkley, who had just one basket in the second half to that point, turned it on again to clinch the victory.
"I can honestly say that he's the best basketball player I've faced," Jackson said. "He's very intense; he's always putting out 100%, and you can do nothing but admire him."
Said Knick Coach Rick Pitino: "Just incredible. If he's not the best player in basketball today, he's close to it."
But Barkley wants no part of comparisons.
"Nobody can be called the best player in the league," he said. "Who's to say who is best among Larry Bird, Michael Jordan or Akeem Olajuwon?"
Chicago 111, Cleveland 100--Michael Jordan scored 52 points and triggered a 12-0 spurt in a the final quarter to carry the Bulls past the Cavaliers at Chicago.
Jordan, who had 15 points in the last period, put Chicago ahead to stay, 93-92, with a short jumper with 4:28 left. Dave Corzine then hit a slam dunk and a free throw.
Jordan made a free throw on a technical foul against Mark West, and Jordan, Scottie Pippen and John Paxson connected as Chicago opened a 103-92 lead with 1:37 left.
Brad Daugherty scored 22 points for Cleveland.
Washington 115, Indiana 111--Bernard King's driving layup with 30 seconds left in overtime broke a tie and sent the Bullets to a victory over the Pacers at Landover, Md.
The Bullets, who trailed by 10 points at halftime and by nine going into the fourth period, rode King's hot shooting down the stretch to tie the game at 98-98 and send it into overtime.
King, who scored or assisted on all of the Bullets' last 10 baskets in regulation, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and six in overtime to finish with 23.
Moses Malone scored 31 for the Bullets, and Jeff Malone added 19. Chuck Person scored 35 for the Pacers, while John Long had 23.
Seattle 114, Sacramento 109--Tom Chambers matched his career high with 42 points and Xavier McDaniel had 6 of his 28 in the closing moments as the SuperSonics outlasted the Kings at Seattle.
Sacramento, which lost for the eighth straight time on the road, got 21 points and 15 rebounds from Otis Thorpe, and Mike McGee added 21 points.
King rookie Kenny Smith, playing for the first time in three weeks because of a broken finger, scored 15 points, all in the second half.