When the Houston Rockets traded away Ralph Sampson, they were sure they had acquired, in sharpshooting Sleepy Floyd, the player they needed to make them a championship contender.
Three games may not be enough to tell, but there has been no indication that Floyd is the key to success.
In fact, Floyd failed in the clutch Saturday night at Houston, and the Rockets lost, 121-117, to the Denver Nuggets.
Floyd, who wound up with a triple-double, missed three shots and was guilty of a traveling violation in the last minute. Floyd's miscues gave Alex English a chance to break a 117-117 tie.
Floyd had 23 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, doing most of his work in the first half as the Rockets built a 15-point lead.
English, who had 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, and Jay Vincent, who finished with 22 points, led the Nugget rally that enabled Denver to take over first place in the Midwest Division.
In his three games with the Rockets, Floyd is only 19 for 46. It is about the same accuracy ratio he had in his first 18 games this season with Golden State.
Joe Barry Carroll, who also came from the Warriors in the Sampson deal, scored 15 points in 18 minutes but was sitting on the bench in the late moments of the game.
Floyd took little satisfaction in his triple double.
"I'm adjusting," he told the Associated Press. "But a few wins wouldn't hurt. I haven't been here long enough to analyze the team, but I don't feel good about the last two games. We should have won them both."
Atlanta 130, Utah 124--Last season, Mike McGee came off the bench to spark the Hawks. John Battle has become the new sparkplug, and the Hawks have dumped McGee.
Battle was at his best in this game at Atlanta as the Hawks extended their winning streak to five games.
Battle sank a three-point shot at the buzzer ending regulation play to tie the game, then scored six points in overtime to win it.
The No. 3 guard scored 27 points in 32 minutes, most of them after the Jazz built leads of as much as 11 points.
Dominique Wilkins had a good night, too. The Hawk leader got 46 points and 7 rebounds.
The Hawks' winning streak began when Wilkins finally overcame nagging injuries that hampered him earlier. In the five games he has averaged almost 36 points.
The defeat took some of the lustre off a fine performance by Karl Malone. The Utah star had 31 points and 17 rebounds.
Washington 109, Chicago 96--The Bulls opened the season by winning 8 of their first 9 road games, but suddenly, they can't beat anyone away from home.
Despite another sterling performance by Michael Jordan, the Bulls lost their fourth in a row on the road. Jordan had 30 points and 7 assists.
From the time Bernard King came off the bench to score 10 points in the second quarter, the Bullets were in control of the game. King finished with 28 points, and for the second game in a row played outstanding basketball. In an overtime win over Indiana Thursday, King scored or assisted on Washington's last 10 baskets in regulation, then scored the go-ahead basket in overtime.
King, who has had trouble regaining his shooting eye, was 14 for 20 from the field and is 23 for 34 in the last two games.
Philadelphia 95, Dallas 90--Charles Barkley continues to make a respectable team out of the 76ers. The all-purpose forward scored five points in one minute in the stretch at Philadelphia.
With the Mavericks leading, 87-86, Barkley made a dunk with 3:28 to play. He then grabbed a rebound, raced down the court and scored a three-point play to put the 76ers in command.
Barkley finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. The 76ers' other forward, Cliff Robinson, had 22 points, 20 in the second half.
New York 125, New Jersey 93--The Knicks found a team they could beat up--the crippled Nets. With Patrick Ewing scoring 20 of his 27 points in the first half at New York, the Knicks built a 10-point lead, then broke it open in the third quarter, outscoring the hapless Nets, 34-17.
It was the ninth road loss without a victory for the Nets, still playing without injured forwards Orlando Woolridge and Buck Williams. No Nets player had more than 13 points.
Seattle 129, Golden State 102--Xavier McDaniel scored 32 points and Dale Ellis added 25 at Oakland as the SuperSonics made the Warriors 0-2 with Ralph Sampson.
The Sonics, who led, 57-47, at halftime, made 15 of 19 shots in the third quarter to extend their margin to 92-74. McDaniel scored 18 points and Ellis 10 in the period.
Rookie Tellis Frank had 23 points and 15 rebounds while Sampson scored 20 points for the Warriors.