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Seattle Finally Reaches Round 2

May 03, 1996|From Associated Press

Seattle put a ghost in its past Thursday night, exorcising a first-round playoff demon in Sacramento.

The SuperSonics, with the best record in the West, got 29 points from Gary Payton in beating Sacramento, the only team in the playoffs with a losing record, 101-87, to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Houston, which beat the Lakers, 3-1, in their series, awaits.

Shawn Kemp added 23 points for Seattle, which won Games 3 and 4 in Sacramento to win the series, 3-1.

"It feels good. I knew all the time we could do it," Payton said. "We showed a lot of character beating them twice at their place."

The Kings lost leading scorer Mitch Richmond because of a sprained right ankle in the second quarter. Richmond, who didn't play in the second half, also was the Kings' best defender against Payton.

Lionel Simmons had a season-high 24 points and Tyus Edney had 14 points for Sacramento, which reached the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

The game was tied, 36-36, when Richmond was hurt with 5:29 to play before halftime. Richmond had averaged 26 points in the first three games of the series.

Seattle took a 50-48 halftime lead, with Kemp and Payton scoring 12 points apiece in the first half.

"The most frustrating thing in this league is to be patient," Kemp said. "I was trying to be patient tonight. I did, and things came to me."

Payton took over the game in the third quarter, scoring 10 points, and the SuperSonics built a 77-69 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Indiana 83, Atlanta 75--The Pacers got 17 points from Rik Smits, 15 of them in the first half; 14 from Derrick McKey and 12 apiece from Mark Jackson and Ricky Pierce to win in Atlanta and even the series, 2-2.

Indiana shot only 33% in the second half, but the Hawks' five-for-23 performance in the final quarter made it a moot point and it was left for the Pacers, who have stayed alive in the series without top scorer Reggie Miller, to ponder getting him back for Game 5, Sunday in Indianapolis.

With Miller watching from the sideline, his injured eye covered by sunglasses, the Pacers held Atlanta scoreless for more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter.

"Sunday, I'm going to say some prayers," Pacer Coach Larry Brown said. "He shot today and he looked pretty damn good, but I don't expect him to be back."

Atlanta missed 13 shots in a row after Grant Long's tip-in with 8:32 to play cut the Indiana lead to 73-71. By the time Long broke the streak--tipping in another miss--there was only 1:09 left and the Pacers had built the lead to 10 points.

"I can't remember better defense than that in a key game," Brown said.

The Hawks had something to do with it too.

"We started missing shots, and we got impulsive," Atlanta Coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We really can't play that way. We're a team that has to have movement."

NBA Notes

Clipper center Stanley Roberts underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his right ankle Thursday. Roberts, who sat out two consecutive seasons with Achilles' tendon injuries, is expected to begin light workouts in 7-10 days. . . . New Jersey Net guard Kevin Edwards, who sat out the last 48 games of the season, had surgery on his right knee to clear up problems from tendinitis scar tissue and calcification.

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