May 12, 1997 in Sports

Maloney Emulates Chapman

By The Spokesman-Review
 

What Rex Chapman started, Matt Maloney seems determined to finish.

As they were in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Seattle SuperSonics are one loss away from elimination - and as in the Phoenix series, it’s a bargain-basement foil who has them there.

Maloney’s shooting in Houston’s 110-106 overtime victory over the Sonics on Sunday was downright Chapmanesque - indeed, his eight 3-pointers left him just one shy of the NBA playoff record set by Chapman against Seattle in the opening round.

The final 3 - with 36.8 seconds left in overtime - may prove to be the dagger that does in Seattle, now down 3-1 in the best-of-7.

“He’s having a special series,” said Sonics coach George Karl. “Some of our rotations are slow, but they’ve executed well and done a good job of figuring it out.”

To Gary Payton, there’s nothing to figure out.

“You get wide-open shots, you should knock them down,” he said.

And to Maloney, there’s no mystery as to why he’s wide open.

“If they double down on Hakeem or Clyde (Drexler) or Charles (Barkley), I’ll keep getting these looks, said Maloney, who finished with 26 points and six assists. “You’re talking about three of the top 50 players of all time, so I don’t think (the Sonics) want to play them one on one. That’s the way the team was put together. It wasn’t by mistake.”

Maloney’s emergence isn’t a mistake, but it is an accident.

Maloney signed a free-agent contract for the NBA minimum of $247,500 - just like Chapman. And when a more expensive free agent point guard - $18 million man Brent Price - went down with a knee injury, Maloney wound up starting all 82 regular-season games.

“We were on the road and the coaching staff was compiling a list of veteran point guards who were available and the veterans came forward and said they liked this kid and thought he could handle the job,” Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

Veterans?

“It was me,” insisted Charles Barkley. “I said Maloney and Randy Livingston would do fine. ”

Barkley said Payton’s blunt assessment “is no knock.

“He (Maloney) doesn’t have a lot of responsibilities because of the way our offense is structured. He gets open looks. He’s not always going to shoot a great percentage, but he’s been consistent all season.” , DataTimes


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