Magic's laid-back look due once-over by Grants

On the NBA

April 18, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

With his team busy fighting for a playoff spot, Harvey Grant hasn't had much time to talk to his twin brother, Horace, lately. But they planned to get together yesterday (Horace is in town with the Orlando Magic, which will face Harvey's Washington Bullets tonight), with one topic in mind.

"We're going to discuss this," Harvey said. "This whole situation."

The situation: Did the Orlando Magic deliberately lie low in Wednesday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers? Orlando coach Richie Adubato, whose team has the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference locked up, is a friend of Cleveland coach Mike Fratello. The Magic sat Rony Seikaly (sore ankles), and observers questioned the uninspired effort of the Orlando players.

"Horace Grant told me that a couple of their guys weren't really playing that hard," Cleveland forward Chris Mills said. "He was upset that a few of their players were in cruise control."

That a coach would deliberately ease up on another coach sounded far-fetched to Bullets coach Bernie Bickerstaff. But he may have other thoughts if the Magic chooses to play Seikaly tonight and also play its starters -- who sat for most of the fourth quarter on Wednesday -- for extended minutes.

"I don't think we can make any assessments about any of it until we play Orlando," Bickerstaff said. "I would hope there would be more integrity involved with my brethren.

"Professionalism, that's what's important. I think it's in everything you do. You not only represent yourself, but you represent the league, the integrity of the league and the integrity of the coaches. I don't have any reason to doubt the integrity of anyone in this situation."

Regardless of what happened on Wednesday, the Bullets know this: If they win their last two games, they're in the playoffs.

"We can't worry about that. We have to take care of our business," Harvey Grant said.

The winners are

As the regular season comes to a close on Sunday, media members are compiling their final votes for the league awards. Here are the views of one man:

Most Valuable Player: Karl Malone, Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan may eventually win it, but Malone dominated his position over the second half of the season.

Rookie of the Year: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers. My vote was swayed by his 40-point game against the Bullets on Monday. He has improved offensively since the start of the season, although he could still learn to pass more.

Coach of the Year: Pat Riley, Miami Heat. Danny Ainge and Dave Cowens were good, but Riley overachieved in leading his team to 60 wins.

Defensive Player of the Year: Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics. Great on-the-ball defender.

Sixth Man: John Starks, New York Knicks. Accepted his role well, even though he's the best shooting guard on the team.

Most Improved Player: Isaac Austin, Miami Heat. Went from a no-name to a key contributor.

First team All-NBA (two guards, two forwards, center): Jordan, Payton, Malone, Glen Rice, Patrick Ewing.

First team All-NBA (regardless of position): Jordan, Payton, Malone, Rice, Grant Hill.

Rumor control?

Though Shawn Kemp's behavior (missed meetings and practices) has cost his team this season, the Seattle SuperSonics forward was the victim when he was accused of having an alcohol problem by NBC analyst/New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey, who said that Kemp admitted the problem during an April 6 team meeting. Vecsey said he got the information from "sources."

Maybe Kemp has an alcohol problem. Maybe he doesn't. If he does and it affects the team, it's probably worth reporting. But to be accused of that on television in an unsubstantiated report was irresponsible by Vecsey and NBC.

"It's innuendo, personal opinion that he pieces together into a theory," Sonics coach George Karl said. "Then he assassinates by association, which is destructive."

Different role

With several opponents having had success by using forwards as defenders against Anfernee Hardaway, the Heat has been using Jamal Mashburn as a point forward in recent games.

Quote of the Week

New Jersey Nets forward Jayson Williams, describing his role in a movie, "The Last Prophet", starring Dennis Hopper: "I've got 35 lines. I don't know what it's about, but I hope I have some [love] scenes."

Bullets' playoff situation at a glance

Tonight's opponent: Orlando Magic

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 8

TV/Radio: Ch. 50, TNT/WWRC (980 AM)

Outlook: The Magic has locked up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference; the Bullets and Cleveland are contending for the East's final playoff spot. Coach Richie Adubato sat C Rony Seikaly (sore ankles) and rested his starters late in Wednesday's loss to Cleveland. Doing anything differently tonight would add fuel to theories that Adubato did friend and Cleveland coach Mike Fratello a favor. Bullets C Gheorghe Muresan (strained lower back) worked out on a stair-climbing machine yesterday and shot a little. He's listed as doubtful for the final two games.

Where they stand

Team ......... W ... L .. GB .. GR

Washington .. 42 .. 38 .. -- ... 2

Cleveland ... 41 .. 39 ... 1 ... 2

Remaining schedule

Tonight

Orlando at Washington

$ Cleveland at Detroit

Sunday

Washington at Cleveland

Playoff scenarios

The Bullets will clinch tonight if they beat Orlando and Cleveland loses to Detroit.

If the Bullets don't clinch tonight, then the winner of Sunday's Bullets-Cavaliers game clinches the playoff berth.

Pub Date: 4/18/97

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