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2002 ABA Tournament

Game Summaries by Steven Herbert

ABA TOURNAMENT

Wednesday at Anaheim
#3 Phoenix 122, #4 Detroit 97
#7 Las Vegas 115, #6 Indiana 94
#2 Southern California 124, #5 Kentucky 111

Thursday at Las Vegas
#2 Southern California 93, #3 Phoenix 90
#1 Kansas City 110, #7 Las Vegas 101

Friday at Las Vegas
#1 Kansas City 118, #2 Southern California 113

By Steven Herbert

LAS VEGAS (April 11, 2002) -- Former New Jersey Nets forward Chris Morris made the tie-breaking basket with less than two minutes to play and added two insurance free throws in the final minute as the Southern California Surf defeated the Phoenix Eclipse, 93-90, in an American Basketball Association semifinal playoff game Thursday night at Cox Pavilion.

Morris' basket broke an 88-88 tie. Oliver Miller's free throw increased the Surf's lead to 91-88 with 15 seconds to play. Phoenix center Horatio Llamas was fouled while trying to shoot a potentially tying 3-point shot. Llamas made the first two free throws, but missed the third. Morris was fouled going for the rebound and made both shots.

Brandon Williams scored a game-high 23 points for Southern California, which advances to Friday night's final, also at Cox Pavilion, against Kansas City, who defeated the Las Vegas Slam 110-101 in the other semifinal.

Kevin Simmons had 21, Llamas 20, Jamel Thomas 18 and Lelan McDougal 16 for the Eclipse, which used just seven players.

Tyson Wheeler added 15, and Anthony Evans and Fred Vinson 10 each for the Surf.

The score was tied, 23-23, after one quarter and 55-55, at halftime. Southern California led by as many as 11 in the third quarter, but an Eclipse rally cut the Surf's lead to two, 78-76, after three quarters.

"They ran with us the whole game which showed a lot of heart, considering they only had seven guys," Surf coach Scott Brooks said.

Southern California overcame a 2-for-17 performance in 3-point shooting with a dominating inside presence, outscoring Phoenix, 60-34, in the paint. The Eclipse committed 22 turnovers to the Surf's 13, with Southern California holding a 24-8 advantage in points off turnovers.

PHOENIX (90)

Thomas 6-22 4-4 18, Simmons 6-11 6-9 21, Llamas 5-16 10-11 20, 
Zunigas 3-8 0-0 8, McDougal 6-14 0-0 16, Wessel 0-2 0-0 0, 
Anders 4-8 0-0 8. Totals 30-81 20-24 90.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (93)

Hawkins 4-6 0-0 8, Morris 3-6 3-4 9, Smith 1-3 1-2 3, Williams 11-18 0-3 23, 
Wheeler 7-15 0-0 15, Vinson 4-9 1-2 10, Benjamin 3-9 1-3 7, Miller 2-8 2-4 6,
Crawford 1-2 0-0 2, Evans 3-4 4-6 10. 
Totals 39-80 12-24 93.

Phoenix      23-22-21-24--90
S.California 23-22-23-25--93

3-Point goals--Phoenix 9-22 (McDougal 4-6, Simmons 3-3, Thomas 1-8, 
Zunigas 1-2, Anders 0-1, Llamas 0-1, Wessel 0-1), Southern California 2-17 
(Vinson 1-6, Wheeler 1-5, Miller 0-3, Benjamin 0-1, Hawkins 0-1, Morris 0-1). 
Rebounds--Phoenix 52 (Llamas 14), Southern California 48 (Miller 12). 
Assists--Phoenix 15 (Simmons, Zunigas 4), Southern California 16 (Wheeler 7). 
Total fouls--Phoenix 23, Southern California 19.
ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) -The Southern California Surf scored 21 unanswered points to end the first half and start the second in a 124-111 victory over the Kentucky Procats in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game Wednesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

With the Surf trailing 55-53, Fred Vinson's 3-point basket began a 9-0 run to close the first half, giving it a 62-55 halftime lead.

Brandon Williams, Juaquin Hawkins, Chris Morris scored to open the second half for Southern California, increasing its lead to 68-55. Rahsaan Smith followed with a basket during a 3-D situation.

Hawkins followed with a free throw and Tyson Wheeler closed the run with a basket, putting the Surf ahead 74-55. It led by at least 11 the remainder of the game.

"Going into the halftime, we wanted to make one quick run," Southern California coach Scott Brooks said. "The foul situation was good. We could really extend the defense because we had no one in foul trouble. That kind of gave us momentum in the second half."

Said Kentucky coach Ralph Underhill: "I told our guys to come out and take our time and we came out quick shooting. A couple of guys took shots we really didn't have in the offense. We missed four straight shots and they made us pay for it."

Vinson finished with 22 points, Williams 21 and Anthony Evans 20 for the Surf, which advances into Thursday night's semifinals at Cox Pavilion at Las Vegas against the Phoenix Eclipse, a 112-97 winner over the Detroit Dogs in another quarterfinal earlier Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

"Our full focus during this week of practice was three and done," Brooks said. "Our goal is three wins, and then we're done. We got one accomplished. We're just one-third of the way. Our guys are focused on bringing the championship."

Southern California is 5-5 against the Eclipse, including victories in the two most recent games, 105-96, Saturday and 140-115, March 29.

"We know their offense, they know ours," Brooks said. "It's going to be a battle of wills."

The Surf broke out to a 9-2 lead against the Procats, with Williams scoring seven points. Kentucky responded with a 9-2 run of its own, with Gary Lumpkin scoring seven points, tying the score 11-11. Southern California led 30-27 at the end of the first quarter.

The Procats during their first lead of the game eight minutes, 20 seconds before halftime as Chris Bacon's dunk put them ahead 37-36. Marcus Hill's back-to-back 3-point baskets concluded a 10-2 run which gave Kentucky a 43-39 lead.

The Surf regained the lead as Vinson scored five consecutive points, putting it ahead 48-47. Bacon had six points as the Procats outscored Southern California, 8-2, taking their final lead, 55-53.

Hill finished with a game-high 29 points. Five teammates also reached double figures, led by Kevin Frey, who had 18 in 38 minutes off the bench.

KENTUCKY (111)

Beard 3-6 2-2 9 Hill 10-13 3-4 29, Bacon 7-14 0-2 14, Lumpkin 6-13 2-4 17, 
Kelly 4-4 0-1 10 Frey 7-10 4-5 18 Ward 0-0 0-0 0 Conley 5-11 0-0 14,
Lyons 0-6 0-2 0. Totals 42-77 11-20 111.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (124)

Hawkins 3-7 1-3 7, Morris 4-7 1-1 9, Smith 5-8 0-2 11, Williams 10-16 0-0 21, 
Wheeler 6-12 0-0 16 Vinson 7-12 4-4 22, Benjamin 3-10 0-0 7, Miller 4-7 1-2 10,
Crawford 0-4 1-2 1 Evans 8-8 4-4 20. Totals 50-91 12-18 124.

Kentucky     27-28-22-34--111
S.California 30-32-37-25--124

3-Point goals--Kentucky 14-34 (Hill 5-8, Conley 4-7, Lumpkin 3-9, Kelly 2-2, 
Lyons 0-3, Bacon 0-2, Frey 0-2, Beard 0-1), Southern California 11-32 
(Wheeler 4-10, Vinson 4-7, Benjamin 1-6, Williams 1-5, Miller 1-1, Crawford 0-2, 
Hawkins 0-1). Rebounds--Kentucky 38 (Bacon, Hill, Frey 6), Southern California 49 
(Evans, Miller 9). Assists--Kentucky 17 (Conley 5), Surf 29 (Wheeler, Miller 7). 
Total fouls--Kentucky 23, Surf 25. 
ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) - The Phoenix Eclipse defeated the Detroit Dogs, 112-97, Wednesday in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game at the Anaheim Convention Center, with guard Lelan McDougal scoring a game-high 35 points for the Eclipse.

Forward Jamel Thomas had 29 points and a game-high equaling 12 rebounds for the Eclipse, which advances to Thursday's semifinals at the Cox Pavilion at Las Vegas against the winner of the Kentucky-Southern California quarterfinal Wednesday night. Guard DuJuan Wheat had 25 points and center William Eley 20 for Detroit.

Thomas had 13 points in the third quarter as Phoenix outscored the Dogs 28-21, building a 56-53 halftime lead into a 84-74 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. McDougal had 10 points in the first quarter as the Eclipse broke out to a 32-27 lead. Phoenix had a 52-38 rebounding advantage, with forward Kevin Simmons pulling down 12 and center Horatio Llamas 11.


DETROIT (97)

McGinnis 5-5 0-0 10, Williams 5-12 4-6 15, Eley 7-20 5-8 20, Conlan 5-9 2-2 14, 
Wheat 8-12 5-7 25, Grant 1-5 1-2 3, Tarrant 1-1 0-0 2, Willis 0-2 0-0 0, 
Zeigler 3-7 0-0 8, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0. 
Totals 35-74 17-25 97.

PHOENIX (112)

Thomas 10-23 7-14 29, Simmons 5-16 4-4 14, Llamas 5-10 5-6 15, 
Zunigas 2-4 1-2 5, McDougal 12-19 7-7 35, Wessel 1- 3-4 5, Anders 3-7 1-2 9. 
Totals 38-80 28-39 112.

Detroit 27-26-21-23-- 97
Phoenix 32-24-28-28--112

3-Point goals--Detroit 9-21 (Wheat 4-6, Conlan 2-3, Williams 1-3, Eley 1-2,
Zeigler 1-2, Grant 0-3, Willis 0-2), Phoenix 7-20 (McDougal 3-6, Anders 2-5, 
Thomas 2-4, Simmons 0-3, Llamas 0-1, Zunigas 0-1). Rebounds--Detroit 38 (Eley 6), 
Phoenix 52 (Simmons 12, Thomas 12). Assists--Detroit 20 (Conlan, Wheat 6), 
Phoenix 13 (McDougal 5). Total fouls--Detroit 31, Phoenix 21. 

ANAHEIM, CA (April 10, 2002) - The Las Vegas Slam broke out to a 16-point lead after one quarter and defeated the Indiana Legends, 115-94, Wednesday in an American Basketball Association quarterfinal playoff game at the Anaheim Convention Center. Gerald Paddio scored 32 points, making all six of his 3-point shots, and Cedric Ceballos 20, making all four of his 3-point shots, for Las Vegas.

The victory advances the Slam into Thursday's semifinals at the Cox Pavilion at Las Vegas against Kansas City, which received a first-round bye after compiling a league-best 32-5 record during the regular season. The Knights concluded regular-season play by winning their final 22 games.

Paddio had 17 points in the first quarter, including four 3-point baskets, as Las Vegas led 38-22. The Slam led 58-43 at halftime and 88-71 after three quarters. Paddio did not play in the fourth quarter.

Center Tremaine Wingfield had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Indiana.

LAS VEGAS (115)

Wilson 4-5 3-5 12, Paddio 16-21 5-6 32, Holland 4-6 0-0 8, Ceballos 8-16 2-2 20, 
Martin 4-16 0-4 8, Holloway 5-8 1-2 10, Jones 4-16 2-2 9, Savoy 1-5 3-4 5, 
Ackles 3-5 0-1 6, Polynice 2-5 0-2 5. Totals 54-103 16-24 115.

INDIANA (94)

Hart 7-13 3-4 16, Wingfield 8-18 3-10 19, Ladson 3-5 4-6 10, Elliot 11-28 0-0 17, 
Buie 1-11 0-0 2, Morton 1-6 4-6 6, Phelps 5-9, 4-6 13, Johnson 3-8, 5-6 11. 
Totals 39-98 23-38 94.

Las Vegas 38-20-30-27--115
Indiana   22-21-28-23-- 94

3-Point goals--Las Vegas 12-22 (Paddio 6-6, Ceballos 4-4, Jones 1-5, Holloway 1-2, 
Martin 0-4, Savoy 0-1), Indiana 7-21 (Elliot 5-12, Hart 1-2, Phelps 1-2, Buie 0-4, 
Morton 0-1). Rebounds--Las Vegas 46 (Ceballos 14), Indiana 50 (Wingfield 15). 
Assists--Las Vegas 14 (Martin 5), Indiana 8 (Buie 2, Elliot 2, Johnson 2, Phelps 2).
 Total fouls--Las Vegas 30, Indiana 20. 

Preview by almostbasketball staff

Once again this year, the ABA cut its regular season short to stage a single-elimination tournament featuring all of its teams. As the league only has seven teams in one division this year, the regular-season champion Kansas City Knights get a bye in the quarterfinals and will open play in the semifinals.

The tournament will be held in Anaheim (Wednesday) and Las Vegas (Thursday and Friday), which means fans of most of the teams won't be there. That's not a huge problem, because, for the most part, most of the players those fans rooted for during the season aren't here either --- nearly a third of the players on postseason rosters played fewer than 10 games for their teams during the season.

A look at the first-round matchups follows:

COMING THURSDAY: Quarterfinal Review and Semifinal Preview.