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NBA Notes : Portland Gets Big Production From Small College Players

February 21, 1988|BILL BARNARD | Associated Press

Portland center Kevin Duckworth is taking full advantage of becoming a starter after injuries to Steve Johnson and Sam Bowie.

Duckworth averaged 21.8 points in his first 12 games after becoming a starter for the Trail Blazers.

In the first 94 games of his NBA career, through Jan. 14, the 7-foot, 280-pound Duckworth never scored more than 18 points. As a non-starter this season, he averaged 7.8.

The recent success of Duckworth, of Eastern Illinois University, continues a trend by the Trail Blazers for getting production out of players from small colleges.

Jerome Kersey, of Longwood College in Farmville, Va., is a leading candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player.

The 6-7 Kersey, who averaged 12.3 points and six rebounds last season, blossomed after Kiki Vandeweghe was injured in November and averaged 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in his first 35 games as a starter.

"Jerome's improved outside game this year opens up a whole new set of possibilities," said Portland assistant Geoff Petrie, who tutored Kersey during the offseason. "Teams can no longer shut him down merely by defending against his drive to the basket."

When Duckworth scored a career-high 31 points on Monday night against Utah, he became the sixth Portland player to reach 30 or more this season, joining Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Vandeweghe, Kevin Porter and Kersey.

Before Brad Daugherty of Cleveland scored 30 on Monday, the Cavaliers were the only team without at least one 30-point scorer this season. Three teams -- Chicago (Michael Jordan), New Jersey (John Bagley) and Cleveland (Daugherty) -- now have only one 30-point scorer.

Seattle and Portland are the only teams in the league with at least one 20-point scorer in every game.

Dominique Wilkins won't compete in the slam-dunk contest on All-Star Weekend any more, saying the judges don't know which dunks are the hardest to do because they've never done them.

Charles Barkley has never taken part in the contest, claiming it's too political, and 1984 slam-dunk champion Larry Nance never defended his title.

So here's a suggestion for next year:

Why not ask Wilkins, Barkley, Nance and the retired Julius Erving to judge the competition in Houston next season?

Jordan and Wilkins are the only two players to score 50 points in a game this season, and both were 20-for-31 from the field when they did it.

Jordan had 52 points on Dec. 17 against Cleveland and Wilkins scored 51 last Tuesday against Sacramento.

The Indiana Pacers haven't had a player in the NBA All-Star game since 1977, when Don Buse and Billy Knight both made the Western Conference team.

The Lakers are winning more and scoring less this season.

If they maintain their scoring average of 113 points per game, it would be their lowest since they averaged 111 in 1980-81.

The Lakers also have failed to score 100 points in six games, matching their total for all of last season, when they averaged 117.8 per game.

With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing a more secondary role in the offense and James Worthy troubled by knee injuries, the Lakers are becoming more guard-oriented.

The Lakers are the only team in the league with guards as the two leading scorers. The starting backcourt of Magic Johnson and Byron Scott is ranked first in the NBA in combined scoring, a point per game ahead of Portland's Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.

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