Robinson's 40 leads Spurs to 2-0 lead over Phoenix

By The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 29, 1996

SAN ANTONIO - So much for softness.

David Robinson, after a week of brushing off questions about whether he's ''soft,'' turned in a hard-edged performance yesterday with 40 points and 21 rebounds as the Spurs beat Phoenix 110-105 to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Robinson's point and rebound totals were both career playoff-highs.

''I'm not out to prove anything to anyone. The only thing on my mind is winning games,'' Robinson said. ''We won. That's the only thing you can really say.''

Robinson scored 13 of his points in the final quarter, including a turnaround, 8-foot jumper over John Williams with 1:34 remaining. He also grabbed a key defensive rebound with 1:18 left after Wesley Person missed a 3-point attempt that would have tied the game.

The Suns remained a threat until the final seconds of the game.

Kevin Johnson's free throws pulled the Suns to 106-105 with 17.3 seconds left. A foul by A.C. Green sent Sean Elliott to the line, and he made both shots to put the Spurs up 108-105 with 12 seconds left.

After a timeout, Green was the only player Phoenix could find open for a 3-point shot. He rushed the attempt and shot an airball with 5.5 seconds left, and Chuck Person then made two free throws to wrap up the victory.

''It was a difficult loss. I felt we could have won,'' said Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons.

Charles Barkley led the Suns with 30 points and 20 rebounds.

''We couldn't get over the hump,'' Barkley said. ''It was a very tough game to lose. A great game to be a part of. We played hard and didn't get any breaks. David (Robinson) played terrific.''

The Spurs are one of the most cohesive and good-spirited teams in the league, yet sometimes that chemistry is misconstrued as softness. Robinson, the star of the team, has acquired that label - deserved or not.

''I'm still growing and learning,'' Robinson said, ''so if people want to criticize me, then let them.''

''If that's a soft David Robinson, I'll take him soft every day,'' Elliott said.

''Really soft, isn't he? It's incredible how soft he is!'' coach Bob Hill said sarcastically.

Elliott added 19 points for the Spurs, and Chuck Person scored 16. Avery Johnson handed out 15 assists and scored 12 points.

The series continues Wednesday night at Phoenix.

San Antonio, leading 85-84 at the start of the fourth, had a 12-4 run in the first 3:40 of the final period. But Phoenix responded with a 7-0 run to trail just 97-95 heading into the final five minutes.

''We were smelling a little blood. We had the opportunity to finish them off, and I was saying, 'Big fella, be greedy,''' Johnson smiled.

Bulls 106, Heat 75

CHICAGO - By the time Michael Jordan was wincing in pain with a strained lower back, his Chicago Bulls were humiliating the Miami Heat. And it wasn't even halftime yet.

Jordan scored 26 points before suffering the injury, returned to play the entire third quarter and finished with 29 as the Bulls beat the Heat 106-75 yesterday to take a 2-0 series lead.

The Bulls can sweep the best-of-5 series by winning Wednesday at Miami, where Alonzo Mourning will try to do more than glare at Chicago players, play poorly and complain about the officiating.

A 23-point-per-game scorer who had only 10 points in Game 1, Mourning scored 14 this time but had seven turnovers. ''That's a great game. He might get that $20 million he wants,'' quipped Chicago's Scottie Pippen, who has traded barbs with Mourning all week.

Pippen had 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, as the Bulls demonstrated why they had an NBA-record 72 victories this season.

Jordan, the league scoring champion for the eighth time in his career, wasn't around for the end. He watched the first couple of minutes of the fourth quarter while laying stomach-down on the floor before going to the locker room with 9:44 to go and the Bulls leading by 34 points.

With 2:39 left in the first half, Jordan drove past Tyrone Corbin and got fouled by Chris Gatling. Jordan was obviously in pain and grimaced as he made two free throws. He left the court nearly in tears and went into the locker room for treatment.

Magic 92, Pistons 77

ORLANDO, Fla. - Shaquille O'Neal scored 29 points, and Orlando took a commanding 2-0 lead in its first-round series against Detroit with a 92-77 victory yesterday.

The Magic can wrap up the best-of-5 matchup by winning Game 3 tomorrow night at The Palace of Auburn Hills, where the Pistons won one of two regular-season meetings with the Atlantic Division champions.

O'Neal made 13 of 19 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and had six assists despite playing only 36 minutes because of foul trouble that helped Detroit stay in the game.

Detroit slowed down the pace as much as possible, but Orlando was able to pull away in the second half.

After Otis Thorpe gave the Pistons a 50-49 lead, Orlando responded with a 12-0 run.

Anfernee Hardaway and Nick Anderson scored 15 apiece.

''I'm sure nobody wants to get swept - we know how that feels - and they're going to come out ready to play,'' Hardaway said of Game 3.