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Former Rocket Sees Similarities

May 12, 1999|LONNIE WHITE

Former Houston Rocket great Calvin Murphy had an interesting take on the current playoff series between the Lakers and Rockets. Like many NBA experts, Murphy says the teams are evenly matched but he took it a step further.

"You're splitting hairs," said Murphy, who has worked in the Rocket organization the last 29 years either as a player, broadcaster or in community relations. "Talking individually, they are close. . . . As a team, they do the same things.

"You have Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] inside dominating [for the Lakers]. You have Hakeem [Olajuwon] dominating on the other end."

Where Murphy's opinion differed from others is when he began to compare Houston rookie Michael Dickerson to the Lakers' Kobe Bryant.

"Bryant's an up-and-coming superstar but we have Michael Dickerson," he said. "[Dickerson] is not getting the same pub that Kobe is getting but he has the same ability."

Dickerson, a former Arizona player who started all 50 regular-season games after being drafted last year, averaged 10.7 points, 1.9 assists and 1.7 rebounds. Bryant, who signed a six-year, $70-million contract extension before the the season, averaged 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists.


Rookie guard Bryce Drew, who gained national exposure last year playing for Valparaiso in the NCAA tournament, played in 34 games during the regular season for Houston but knows that several teammates will have to have poor shooting nights before he gets any playoff minutes.

Ahead of Drew on the depth chart are Dickerson, Cuttino Mobley, Brent Price and Sam Mack.

"So much of our game is determined by how well we're doing on the blocks," said Drew, who had a high game of 18 points this year. "We have to get them scoring and then get the ball out once the double-teams come. That's when our perimeter players come into play.

"Rudy does a great job of seeing who's hot and giving them opportunities. If they don't [produce], then he puts in guys who do have the hot hand and stays with them during the game."

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