Despite miss, keep driving, Patrick

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A Bunch of Stuff:

Probably the worst part about Patrick Ewing blowing a layup at the end and the New York Knicks being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Indiana Pacers in a nationally televised Game 7 yesterday is he'll go back to shooting fadeaway jump shots instead of going toward the basket like all 7-footers must.

* It has been close to a year now since Houston took the NBA championship, and although some casual fans may be excused for not being aware of the fact yet, one would think the league office would be according the Rockets their proper respect.

Losers of their first two playoff games against the Suns in Phoenix by an average of 23 points, the Rockets were subjected to playing three games in four nights and at unusual times of the day to suit television.

Trailing 3-1, and with two of a possible three games on the road, including Game 7, Houston won anyway, taking the deciding game, 115-114, after being down by 15 points early. The home team in Game 7's had won 20 times in a row prior to the Phoenix Phade.

The NBA office must have noticed the nasty second-round hand it dealt the Rockets, the team had yesterday off (to return home and practice) before scooting down to San Antonio tonight to take on the Spurs.

* The deck headline, the one in smaller type underneath the larger headline, clarioned, "Caps Dumbfounded By Loss To Penguins." Why?

This Washington team is getting so good at squandering seemingly comfortable leads, its logo should be some sort of mascot clutching its throat with both hands while falling backward. As if losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins after holding a 3-1 lead in games and four separate advantages during Game 5 wasn't bad enough, the Capitals put up little to no resistance in the stretch.

Their lone score while the Pens were tallying 10 goals over the last two games was a who-cares face-saver late in a 7-1 drubbing before the home faithful. Jim Schoenfeld said the thing that bothered him most was the team's "inability to execute the [tight-checking] system we executed so well all season long." Maybe the coach doesn't recall the days when his team won just three of the first 19 games played.

* When you have a 21-61 season as the Washington Bullets did, the "Season in Review" publication touts highlights such as this one: "The Bullets tied for the league lead with San Antonio (24-13) and Milwaukee (20-17) in games decided by six points or less, posting a 15-22 record in their 37 tight contests."

Other "highlights" include a 6-37 record, including 1-12 on Tuesdays, in games played Monday through Thursday, and, as a result of yesterday's draft lottery, the team ending up with the fourth overall pick in next month's collegiate draft.

* Let's hear it for Chris Fox, the Hagerstown lad who yesterday at the Bay-to-Breakers 12-K in San Francisco broke up a blitz by Kenya's awesome array of distance runners by grabbing third place in 34:42. The Africans went 1-2-4-7-8 behind Ismael Kirui's third straight win in 33:58. Kirui ran the fastest 10-mile ever (45:38) while winning the Cherry Blossom race in Washington earlier this month. More than 80,000 trudged the streets of S.F.

* One can only wonder what those whizbangs who run the NHL had in mind when they (1) totally embarrassed, (2) fined and (3) gave teams and fans ammunition forevermore to scream at one of their best officials, Andy Van Hellemond.

Yes, the ref made a glaring mistake, whistling off a goal by the Nordiques during their playoff series against the New York Rangers. But league contests are riff with mistakes as the game of hockey rapidly becomes a game virtually impossible for one man to officiate effectively.

Officials in all sports have a tough enough time calling balls and strikes, deciding if a receiver got both feet down, calling a service line for a guy hitting a tennis ball at 130 mph, etc. For a league itself to join in the already rampant disrespect is heinous.

* Philadelphia is losing a really class sportswriter, Frank Dolson. The retiring columnist mainstay of the Inquirer for decades, Frank gave amateur sports their due along with the pro variety and might be only one of three people on earth that Howard Cosell liked. His coverage of the 11 Israeli athletes being slaughtered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich stands alone.

* How can the U.S. Badminton Association ever expect youngsters to get passing grades in geography when, for the Olympic Sports Festival in late July in Boulder, Colo., it names a Californian and four Coloradans to the East squad, a lad from upstate New York to the South team and an Atlantan to the North? Another kid from Marblehead, Mass., which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, is on the West.

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