Bernard King, a man known for the unrelenting seriousness of his game face, stepped to the sideline late in the fourth quarter Thursday night to wink and smile at his mother, father and nephew watching from front-row seats.
"I'm feeling ecstatic," said King, who put on a show for his family and the Madison Square Garden crowd, scoring 23 of the Bullets' 32 fourth-quarter points, leading Washington to a 107-98 win over New York.Earlier in the week, King had fulfilled his goal of becoming the first man without an anterior cruciate ligament to be named to the NBA All-Star game. King tore the ligament in a injury suffered March 23, 1985 when he was with the Knicks. At that time, no one had ever come back from such an injury.
He sat out the entire 1985-86 season and all but the last six games of 1986-87. He averaged 22.7 points in those six games, but New York did not match the Bullets' offer in October 1987, when they signed him as a free agent.
"The last six years I've worked awfully hard to get to this point and I deserve to enjoy it and relish it," said King, the league's third-leading scorer averaging 29.9 points. "Coming back here and playing this way in front of this organization and this crowd is wonderful."
King, who finished with 49 points and 11 rebounds, received a standing ovation after a fall-away jumper with 3:20 left gave Washington a 98-89 lead. The Knicks couldn't do anything but watch, either.
He was 10 of 13 from the field and three for three from the line in the fourth, when he was guarded at various times by Gerald Wilkins, Charles Oakley, Kiki Vandeweghe, Brian Quinnett and Patrick Ewing.
"I admire him," New York Coach John MacLeod said. "To come back and play without any hint of any kind of problem is an indication of just how tough, mentally, this guy is."
The victory lifted the Bullets into sole possession of third place in the Atlantic Division, a game ahead of New York.
Sonics 97, Rockets 94
At Houston, Sedale Threatt scored 18 points and Shawn Kemp added 17, breaking the Sonics' eight-game road losing streak. Buck Johnson poured in 23 points for the Rockets, but missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
Spurs 106, Bulls 102
At San Antonio, Texas, Rod Strickland scored 6 straight points in the final two minutes, 2 of them coming after stealing the ball from Michael Jordan, to boost the Spurs. Two free throws each by David Robinson and Paul Pressey in the last six seconds clinched the victory. Jordan finished with 33 points.
Lakers 116, Hawks 103
At Inglewood, Calif., Mychal Thompson had 10 of his season-high 19 points in the decisive second quarter to lead the Lakers to their 13th straight win. The Lakers sank 14 of 21 shots in the second period to take a 63-40 halftime bulge.
Nuggets 123, Nets 119
At Denver, Michael Adams combined a career-high 45 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to pace the Nuggets to their fifth straight win. Adams scored 32 of his 45 points in the second half and has scored 154 points in his last four games.
Warriors 135, Clippers 119
At Oakland, Calif., Mitch Richmond scored 40 points and Chris Mullin added 32 to give the Warriors their fourth straight victory. Tim Hardaway had 24 points and 12 assists for Golden State. Ken Norman led the Clippers with 24 points.