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NBA PLAYOFFS | ROUNDUP

Rockets Are Feeling SuperSonic

May 12, 1997|From Associated Press

Unless they stumble in Houston, the Rockets are finished playing in Seattle.

The Rockets can wrap up their Western Conference semifinal series at home after defeating the SuperSonics, 110-106, in overtime Sunday. Houston holds a 3-1 lead.

"We're looking forward to closing them out at home," Clyde Drexler said after back-to-back victories in Seattle.

"We need to go home and take care of business," Rocket forward Charles Barkley said.

Houston didn't win the game in regulation because Barkley missed two free throws with 11 seconds to play. In overtime, rookie Matt Maloney put the Rockets ahead in the final minute with his eighth three-point basket, one shy of the NBA playoff record set by Rex Chapman of Phoenix against the SuperSonics in the first round this year.

The Rockets can wrap up the series with a victory in Game 5 in Houston on Tuesday night. Game 6, if necessary, would be in Seattle on Thursday night.

History says the Houston-Seattle series is probably decided. Only five clubs have come back from 3-1 deficits. The Rockets were the last team to do so, rallying to beat Phoenix two years ago.

If they lose, it will be a disappointing ending to what the SuperSonics hoped would be a title season. Seattle lost in six games to the Chicago Bulls in the last year's NBA finals.

"We've been there before and come back," Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon said. "So we know it's not over yet."

"We just have to come out and play like the series is tied up and win the game Tuesday," said Gary Payton, who led Seattle with 27 points and 11 assists.

"Game 5 is simple," Seattle Coach George Karl said. "It's pride, it's heart. If we play with tremendous intensity, we'll have an opportunity to win."

New York 77, Miami 73--In a game of ugly offenses and suffocating defenses, it was fitting that the biggest play of Game 3 was a blocked shot.

With a three-point lead, Patrick Ewing blocked Tim Hardaway's three-point shot with three seconds to play to preserve the New York Knicks' victory over the Heat at New York.

He then added a free throw for the final margin.

It gave New York a 2-1 advantage in the series heading into Game 4 tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks made five field goals in the fourth quarter and none in the final 6 minutes 20 seconds, but they also held Miami to two baskets during the final 12 minutes and zero points in the final 2:50.

Miami's 73 points were the fewest scored in a playoff game against the Knicks.

"Somebody on their team said they gave us a gift in the last game," Hardaway said. "Well, we gave that gift right back to them. We should have won."

Ewing led New York with 25 points and 11 rebounds and outplayed Miami center Alonzo Mourning for the third game in a row. Mourning had 14 points and seven rebounds and was barely a factor in the fourth quarter.

Allan Houston scored 13 points and John Starks had 11, including three free throws to give New York a 76-73 lead after he was fouled by Voshon Lenard on a three-point shot with 2:42 to play.

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