The New York Knicks wrested the homecourt advantage from Houston by winning Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Friday night. What they gained is up for debate, however.
Since the NBA returned to the 2-3-2 finals format 10 years ago, no team has been able to win all three of the middle games on its home floor. On the contrary, the 1990 Detroit Pistons and 1991 Chicago Bulls swept the middle three games on the road at Los Angeles and Portland.In the past nine years, the home team has gone 2-1 in the middle three games four times, 1-2 twice, 0-3 twice and 0-2 once.
OVERCOMING THE ODDS: The National Anthem was sung Friday night by David Oelfke.
The Rockets game notes said the name was pronounced off-key.
STATS: The Eastern Conference representative in the finals has won 14 of the last 16 games on the home floor of the West champion.
TOP 20: Hakeem Olajuwon, with 25 points, moved into 20th place on the career list of NBA playoff scorers.
Olajuwon has 2,163 postseason points, 22 more than George Mikan. Elvin Hayes, with 2,194, is 19th on the list.
SOARING ROCKETS: Houston area businesses know a winning gimmick when they see it, and they see it in the Rockets.
One hotel set the price of a room - with an $85 cap - on the number of points the New York Knicks scored in Game 2 Friday night. They had 78 in the opener Wednesday, but won the second game 91-83.
A Ford auto dealership put a sign up saying "The Knicks drive Chevys," and took $100 off the price of a car if a customer can sink a basket on the showroom floor.
A copy company said it would make a free Rockets poster if the customer provides the sketch.
Other businesses have staged pep rallies or allowed employees to wear Rockets clothes to work.
HAKEEM'S SHADOW: Otis Thorpe, whose 14 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1 helped Houston neutralize New York inside, says he doesn't mind playing a secondary role to 1994 MVP Hakeem Olajuwon.
"He's the main man for us, but it takes a team effort," Thorpe said. "He can't do it alone. We all have to work together."
CHANGING GAME: New York coach Pat Riley admits that the NBA has changed since the days he was winning championships as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's a different game, but is it a worse game? Transition defense used to mean five guys getting back, except not everyone bothered," Riley said. "The change started with Detroit, when they won back-to-back. Don't blame me. Blame that man over there. He started it."
Riley pointed to Chuck Daly, coach of the Pistons in their title years of 1989 and 1990. He is working in television now.
RUDY T.: Rockets assistant Carroll Dawson says Rudy Tomjanovich, after just two full years as Houston's head coach, is headed for stardom.
"The only thing that will keep Rudy from being one of the all-time great coaches is if his ego isn't big enough," Dawson said. "He's the kind of guy who would rather be by himself than drawing a big crowd."
SAY AGAIN? Knicks guard John Starks was asked if Friday night's game was a must-win situation for New York.
"I wouldn't say it's a must-win game," he said. "It's just a game we have to win."