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Rockets' New Combination Must Prove It Can Pass Test

August 21, 1996|ALLAN MALAMUD

With Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in their lineup, the Houston Rockets will need more than one basketball. . . .

The traded player the Rockets will miss most is Sam Cassell, who is probably the most underrated guard in the NBA. . . .

Early NBA Western Conference forecast: 1. Lakers, 2. Seattle, 3. San Antonio, 4. Utah, 5. Houston. . . .

The Harlem Globetrotters, who open training camp in Florida next month, are confident that they will have a winning season. . . .

New York Giant Coach Dan Reeves was upset when fans booed Tommy Maddox and thought they were influenced by media criticism of the quarterback. . . .

Then Reeves cut Maddox. . . .

I guess Reeves was just as low on Maddox as the fans and media were. . . .

Pittsburgh Steeler Coach Bill Cowher would have shown a lot more imagination by picking Kordell Stewart as his starting quarterback instead of Jim Miller. . . .

Thumbs up to Washington Redskin Coach Norv Turner, who didn't let paychecks influence his decision when he picked Gus Frerotte over Heath Shuler. . . .

What I miss most about the NFL in L.A. are the quarterback controversies. . . .

The name of Jimmy Johnson's lady friend, Rhonda Rookmaker, sounds like something out of "Semi-Tough.". . .

As the NFL regular season approaches, there is more talk in Phoenix about the NBA Suns and the NHL Coyotes and their trades than about the Cardinals. . . .

Running back Terry Kirby was a solid acquisition by the San Francisco 49ers, who had to give the Miami Dolphins only a fourth-round draft pick. . . .

The Chicago Bears will miss Chris Zorich's heart. . . .

Penn State, which plays USC in the Kickoff Classic on Sunday at the Meadowlands, had 10 players drafted this year, tops in the nation and second in school history. . . .

Iowa's Hayden Fry is the only one active who has coached more NCAA I-A games than Penn State's Joe Paterno. Fry has coached 385, 32 more than Paterno. . . .

For sure, Penn State won't be caught looking past the Trojans. After Sunday, the Nittany Lions play, in order, Louisville, Northern Illinois and Temple. . . .

The good news is that nearly two-thirds of NCAA I-A schools will play their home games on grass surfaces, compared to slightly more than half as recently as 1993. . . .

Excuse me if this sounds like a broken record, but the start of construction of a campus arena at USC may not be far away. . . .

Look-alikes: Lindsay Davenport and Rosie O'Donnell. . . .

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be head counselor at Kareem's Back to School Camp Saturday and Sunday at 1 GTE Place in Thousand Oaks. The sponsor is the Athletes & Entertainers For Kids charity. . . .

Without attracting much attention, Patrick Valenzuela is delivering some terrific rides at Del Mar. . . .

Something Del Mar does better than Hollywood Park and Santa Anita is start its races on time. . . .

Former welterweight champion Carlos Palomino, 44, is back in the gym and, unfortunately, thinking about making a comeback. . . .

One fighter I would like to see more often is Shane Mosley. . . .

The record-setting Texas Rangers have gone from last in the American League in fielding in 1995 to first this season. . . .

Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees probably will become the pitcher with the highest earned-run average ever to win the Cy Young Award. Pettitte is 18-7 despite an ERA of 4.28. LaMarr Hoyt of the Chicago White Sox won the AL Cy Young with an ERA of 3.66 in 1983.

One of baseball's least-known managers, Terry Bevington of the White Sox, is doing one of the better jobs. . . .

There was a bigger crowd for the Moorpark-Cranston, R.I., game in the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa., on Monday than for the Giants-New York Mets game at San Francisco. . . .

Who'd have thought that the Seattle Mariners would have a much better record on the road than at the Kingdome? . . .

The Dodgers will play their last 10 games of the season in Southern California, but four of them will be in San Diego. . . .

Asked by the Dodger Alumni Assn. to name his favorite teammates, Larry Sherry said, "Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale because, being in the bullpen, you almost always got the night off.". . .

Battle cry of both sides in baseball's labor dispute: "What's the rush?"

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