Western Conference Finals Preview
Costa Mesa Condors
75-11 (3-3)

Minnesota Muskies
61-28 (3-3)

Score (click for boxscore) Game MVP Hi Points Hi Rebounds Hi Assists
1. Condors 140, Muskies 135 Clark Kellogg 37 Kiki Vandeweghe 17 Clark Kellogg 14 John Lucas
2. Muskies 113, Condors 108 Kiki Vandeweghe 46 Kiki Vandeweghe 20 Akeem Olajuwon 9 John Lucas
3. Condors 145, Muskies 133 Isiah Thomas 27 Kiki Vandeweghe 13 Akeem Olajuwon 17 Isiah Thomas
4. Condors 144, Muskies 137 Sidney Moncrief 43 Purvis Short 16 Charles Barkley 13 Isiah Thomas
5. Muskies 110, Condors 109 OT Kiki Vandeweghe 30 Kiki Vandeweghe 12 Isiah Thomas 9 John Lucas
6. Condors 133, Muskies 128 Isiah Thomas 30 Sidney Moncrief 17 Charles Barkley 13 Isiah Thomas
Costa Mesa wins series 4-2

Game 1 – Kiki Vandeweghe scored a dozen 1st period points, but was countered by Akeem Olajuwon’s 11 which led Costa Mesa to a 42-38 advantage after one. Kiki added 8 more in the 2nd and got help from Robert Parish’s 8. Sidney Moncrief had 8 for the Condors and CMC enjoyed a 77-71 edge heading into the locker rooms. Zeke led all scorers in the 3rd frame with 8 points and Minnesota cut the lead to 104-101 heading into the final quarter. The home team built a 14-point lead with 3:39, but the Muskies ended the game on a 15-6 run, but there wasn’t enough time on the clock. The Costa Mesa Condors take game 1 by a 140-135 margin. Vandeweghe led all scorers with 37 points. Purvis Short topped CMC with 29. Clark Kellogg was named game MVP with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 3 steals in 26-1/2 minutes of playing time. Both teams sizzled from the field with Minnesota holding a 57% to 56% edge.

Game 2 – The Costa Mesa Condors jumped out to a 31-24 lead after the first quarter behind 13 points from Isiah Thomas. Kiki Vandeweghe answered with 26 first half points and Minnesota was able to tie the game going into halftime at 57-57. The Muskies built a 7-point lead heading into the 4th quarter at 83-76. The Condors came out with stifling defense to open the period and tied the game at 87-87 with 7 minutes to play. The teams went back and forth for the next 4 minutes until the Condors went on a 7-0 run opening up a 3-point lead with 3 minutes to play. Charles Barkley then hit back to back hoops giving the Muskies a 104-103 lead with 1:39 on the clock. Sidney Moncrief put the Condors up by one with a minute to play. Not to be out done, Kiki Vandeweghe poured in his 46th point to put the Muskies up 1 with 45 seconds to go. After a Purvis Short missed jumper, Isiah Thomas fouled Danny Ainge. Ainge, a 90% free throw shooter, went on to hit 6-6 in FT’s in the final 30 seconds. The Muskies held on to win 113-108. The teams travel back to The Barn in Minnesota for games 3 and 4. Minnesota highlights: Kiki Vandeweghe 46 points; Charles Barkley 19 points, 12 rebounds; and Robert Parish 18 points, 17 rebounds. For Costa Mesa: Akeem Olajuwon 14 points, 20 rebounds; Isiah Thomas 17 points, 5 assists; and Purvis Short 32 points.

Game 3 – Costa Mesa started off hot and built a 26-point lead in the first quarter with the help of the fastbreak. Purvis Short had 12 points, Isiah Thomas 10 and Akeem Olajuwon 9.  The Muskies, undaunted, chipped away at the lead in the second and third periods to eventually tie it after three.  Things were looking bad for the Condors with Moncrief fouling out with 7 min left.  He had held Kiki pretty well in check most of the game to that point.  But the Condor depth proved to be the deciding factor in this game. The score was 136-131 CMC with 55 ticks left. Costa Mesa closed it out on a 9-2 run, hitting their free throws for a 145-133 victory. Zeke was named game MVP with 24 points, 17 assists and 4 steals. Olajuwon led the Condors with 25 points and 13 boards. Purvis finished with 24 and The Microwave came off the bench for 20. Vandeweghe led all scorers with 27 points (15-17 FT) and also hauled down 10 boards. Charles Barkley scored 21 with 11 rebounds. John Lucas also had 21 points to go with 12 dimes.

Game 4 – The Minnesota Muskies scored the first 6 points, but then the Condors kicked into gear by getting 5 fastbreaks in a row to go up 20-12.  Muskies put up their own 14-0 run to go up 26-20 and lead 42-39 after the first period.  Kiki Vandeweghe was “held” to 12 first half points. John Lucas and Danny Ainge, both with 17 points at the half, benefited from their man doubling down on Kiki. Purvis Short scored 19 in the second period for the visiting club to get the lead 76-71 going into the locker rooms at the half.  The Condors extended the lead to 109-99 after 3.  The teams pretty much traded baskets in the 4th with Craig Hodges doing his best to rally the home squad by scoring 9 in the 3rd.  Kiki had only 2 points in the fourth.  The Condors take a 3-1 series lead by winning 144-137.  Lucas led the Muskies in scoring with 23 (11a), Charles Barkley had 22p, 16r and Kiki was “held” to 22 p, 6 a.  The Condors were led by game MVP Short with 43 Points, Zeke added 18p and 13a, while Sidney Moncrief chipped in 36p and 11a.  The Condors look to close out the series at home in game 5, but they know Kiki and company are not going to go out without a fight.

Game 5 – Minnesota visited Costa Mesa for Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Minnesota did a good job slowing the Condors potent fast break and offense throughout most of the game. The Condors came out strong and took a 28-22 lead after the first quarter. Minnesota answered by winning the second quarter and cutting the halftime lead to 3 points. Things looked grim for the Muskies, as Robert Parish was injured in the second quarter and would not return for the remainder of the game. Moncrief led the Condors with 13 points at the half, Vandeweghe led the Muskies with 12. Behind Manute Bol, the Parish-less Muskies came out with stifling defense in the third quarter and outscored the Condors 27-17 to take a 74-67 lead after three quarters. The Muskies maintained that 7 point lead with 4 minutes to go. However, the Condors would go on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 90 with 1:30 left. The Muskies John Lucas hit 1-2 FT’s to put the Muskies up 2 with 20 seconds left in the game. However, the Rainbow Warrior, Purvis Short nailed a jumper to send the game in OT. The teams traded baskets to start the OT. Isiah Thomas nailed two FT’s putting the Condors up 103-100 with 2:23 remaining. The Muskies answered with a bucket by Charles Barkley and two FT’s by Kiki Vandeweghe to take a 104-103 lead with 51 seconds to play. A Moncrief put back put the Condors ahead by one. After a Vandeweghe missed shot, Isiah went coast to coast and put the Condors up 3, 107-104 with 20 seconds left. The Muskies called timeout to set up a three point play for Craig Hodges … who delivered, knotting the game at 107 with 16 seconds left. The Condors answered getting the ball in the paint to Akeem and after he nailed a Dream Shake, the Condors seemingly crushed the Muskies hope for a game 6, taking a 109-107 lead. Trailing by 2 with 4 seconds left and their season on the line, the Muskies went for broke and drew up another three point play for Craig Hodges, who nailed his second 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds, giving the Muskies a 110-109 lead. Amazingly, there was still time on the clock, less than a second. The Condors got the ball to Purvis short, who missed a jumper with 0.9 seconds to go … but, much like the 1972 Olympic gold medal game between USSR and USA, the clock apparently didn’t start, as Isiah Thomas secured the rebound with 0.7 left and tossed up a three pointer that rattled around the rim and spun out. Amazing game, Craig Hodges is the hero. The Muskies survive game 5 in Costa Mesa by the score of 110-109.

Game 6 – The series headed north to Minnesota. The Condors decided to be more aggressive on their game plan to try to avoid a game 7. The first period was a back-and-forth affair. John Lucas came out hot for the Muskies, scoring 12 in the first, including two 3 pointers.  The first period ended with a 2-point Minnesota lead.  The second period started much the same as the teams exchanged baskets.  But that all changed with 4 minutes to go until halftime.  With the Condors up 62-54 with 4:09, Kiki Vandeweghe picked up his third foul just a few seconds after Manute Bol picked up his third, that was shortly before Lucas picked up his third.  With the team’s best passer, the middle defense shot blocker and arguably the best offensive player in the league all sitting with foul trouble, the Condors went to work by working their aggressive game plan with a little bit of pressure with half court trap and getting out on the break.  This led to a 14-6 run to close the half with a 76-60 score.  At the half, Akeem Olajuwon had 17 points, Purvis Short had 15, and Sidney Moncrief had 16. Isiah Thomas had 10+ assists.  Lucas lead the Muskies with his 12 first period points. Danny Ainge scored 9, with Charles Barkley and Vandeweghe held to 8p points each.  The Muskies started chipping away at the Condor lead despite Vandeweghe picking up his 4th foul at the 10:20 mark in the 3rd. Robert Parish and Barkley (8p each in the quarter), with the help of Rickey Green (6p) closed the lead to 10 at the end of three, 105-95. Vandeweghe got to double digits for the game with only 2 points in the quarter due to sitting with foul trouble.  Second year man for the Minnesota team, Barkley and 3-pt specialist, Craig Hodges continued to chip away at the visitors’ lead.  With 0:55 left to play, Minnesota had cut the lead to 3 on a Lucas to Bill Walton alley-oop slam, 129-126.  The Condors lose the ball on an errant pass by Olajuwon. The Chief replaced Walton at the Muskies timeout. Parish has historically done well vs. the Condors.  43 ticks left – Vandeweghe  drives on Olajuwon who alters his short jumper – no good – but gets his own rebound and shoots – an air ball, Condors ball.  Hodges fouls Thomas, who sinks both to stretch the lead now to 5 points in favor of the visitors.  15 seconds – Lucas shoots – misses, Parish rebounds – puts it back – misses, Barkley rebounds (17th on the game) and hits the jumper.  7 seconds and down by 3, the Muskies need a steal and some Hodges 3 point heroics to get the game into overtime like game 5.  But  the inbound pass gets to Zeke who is fouled by Hodges.  Thomas hits both throws to seal the series for the Condors.  They finally beat their playoff nemesis in a series to go to the VBA Finals!  Vandeweghe, who caused most of the Condor troubles, ended his season on sour note by only scoring 10 points on the night with 4-10 shooting, 3 rebounds and no assist on a foul-plagued night.  The Muskies did spread the scoring around 9 players scoring double digits, lead by Barkley’s 26p with 17r.  The Condors were lead by Moncrief’s 30p 6a effort where he could expend his energy on offense with getting Kiki into foul trouble.  Olajuwon had 28p and 6r with Thomas pulling a double-double with 19p 13a taking the game MVP honors.

Akeem Olajuwon, MVP

Series MVP – Akeem Olajuwon
22.0 pts, 9.5 reb, 3.2 blk, 2.5 stl