Express 60-29 (0-6)
Stars 85-1 (6-0)
|Score (click for boxscore)||Game MVP||Hi Points||Hi Rebounds||Hi Assists|
|1. Stars 161, Express 141||Magic Johnson||39 Magic Johnson||11 Fat Lever||16 Doc Rivers|
|2. Stars 117, Express 94||Doc Rivers||29 Magic Johnson||17 Michael Cage||14 Doc Rivers|
|3. Express 136, Stars 123||Fat Lever||36 Fat Lever||22 Fat Lever||12 Alex English|
|4. Stars 138, Express 125||Patrick Ewing||35 Alex English||12 Joe Barry Carroll||15 Fat Lever|
|5. Stars 151, Express 145||Patrick Ewing||47 Patrick Ewing||16 Michael Cage||15 Doc Rivers|
Game 1 – A well-rested Fresno Stars team was hosting a weary Rocky Mountain Express squad that just had to overcome an 8-point deficit in the 4th quarter of game 7 against the Mt. Dora Hurricanes just three days earlier. Selland Arena was at max capacity as the fans wanted more of their unbelievable 81-1 season. The crowd got exactly what they wanted. The Stars’ fresh legs prevailed as they raced up the court, shooting .750 from the field in the first quarter and scoring 16 points on the fast break. They jumped out to a big lead early and when the first buzzer sounded, were up 52-32. Alvin Robertson had 12 and Magic 10 for Fresno. Alex English and Joe Barry Carroll both tallied 8 for the visitors. Patrick Ewing took control of the 2nd frame, scoring 10 of his halftime-high of 18 points to put the Stars up 81-58 going into the locker room. The 3rd was pure Magical as Earvin rang up 16 more points and the scoreboard read 131-101 heading into the final period. Phil Hubbard scored 13 points in the 4th as Rocky Mountain narrowed the margin a bit, but ultimately fell 161-141 in the high-scoring affair. For the game, FRS shot .667 to RME’s .492. Johnson was named Game MVP with 39 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds. Four more Stars had 20 or more points (Robertson 26, Paul Pressey 25, Ewing 23 and Michael Cage 20). Doc Rivers finished with 16 points and 16 assists. Pressey had 13 dimes. English topped the Express with 25 points and 10 assists. Fat Lever had a triple double: 23 points, a game-high 11 boards and 10 assists.
Game 2 – Much to the chagrin of the Rocky Mountain faithful, who accompanied their squad to Selland Arena, game two didn’t look much different than game one. Fresno scored the game’s first 7 points and was up 25-10 before 5-1/2 minutes were up. Doc Rivers and Magic Johnson each had 10 points in the 44-29 first frame. The Express were stuck at the station in the 2nd period as the home squad upped their lead to 77-49 at halftime. Magic led all scorers with 19. RME hung tough in the 3rd, actually winning it 24-23 as Alex English tallied 18 thru the first 36 minutes. The Express narrowed the gap a bit in the 4th against the subs, but the Fresno Stars won easily, 117-94. Rivers took home the Game MVP with 19 points, 14 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds. Magic finished with a game-high 29 and Paul Pressey chipped in 21. Michael Cage did the dirty work, hauling in 17 boards and scoring 14. English’s 20 topped the Express. The series now shifts to Rocky Mountain for games three and four where the Express hope home court advantage can slow down the Stars fast break offense.
Game 3 – In a desperate need of a win, the Express returned home to a raucous sell-out crowd at their newly named Union Pacific Arena. Home cooking is just what the doctor ordered, with the Express holding off the Stars 136 to 123. The Express playing off the crowd’s energy got off to a hot start leading 36 to 23 after the 1st quarter. The Stars stormed back in the 2nd quarter (Express led by 23 at one point), Alvin Robertson added 13 in the frame for the Stars, closing the Express lead to 5 at half: 67 to 62. A seasaw 3rd ensued, with the Stars taking their first lead of the game at 73 to 71 with 9:19 to go. But the Express never trailed by more than 2 points. The Express led 101-97 entering the 4th. The first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter continued to be a back and forth battle, but in the end, the power trio of Alex English, Walter Davis and Lafayette Lever took over, scoring 28 of the 35 points the Express scored to finish off the Stars. The game MVP was Lever who led all scorers with 36 and in the process completed a triple-double adding 22 rebounds and 10 assists along with 4 steals. Patrick Ewing lead all Stars’ scorers with 21 points. Game 4 set for May 22nd at UPA.
Game 4 – With the score tied at 11, the Rocky Mountain Express took off on a 10-0 run. Then, like in game 3, Fresno would creep back in close and the Express would widen the gap. The Stars would score 9 straight late in the first quarter to pull within one at 31-30. Rocky Mountain got going again and took a 43-39 advantage into the 2nd frame. Alex English led all scorers with 11 in the first. The play followed that pattern until 3:56 remaining in the half, with the home team up 64-58. At that point, Rocky Mountain could do nothing right and Fresno could do nothing wrong. The Stars posted a 20-3 spree that completely flipped the momentum of this game. The Stars had taken an 11-point lead right before Phil Hubbard’s inside bucket finished the first half scoring. Fresno 78, Rocky Mountain 69. English had 17 at the half, Alvin Robertson 10 for FRS. Robertson’s hot hand continued into the 3rd quarter and the Stars kept the pressure on, taking the quarter 39-24 and building a 24-point advantage to start the 4th. The Express started cutting into Fresno’s lead as the 4th progressed. They managed to make it an 11-point difference late in the game and it seemed like they were on the cusp of a 10-0 run, but it never materialized. Fresno hung on to win 138-125 and take a 3-1 series lead back to Selland Arena for game 5. English finished with 35 points to lead all scorers. Fat Lever scored 20, dished out 15 dimes and hauled down 6 boards. Patrick Ewing was named Game MVP with 33 points on 13-24 shooting and he also collected 8 rebounds. Robertson tallied 21; Magic scored 15 and dished out 10 assists, barely missing a triple-double with 9 rebounds.
Game 5 – The series shifted back to Fresno’s home court with the Stars one win away from making their 2nd appearance in the VBA Finals. They felt like they had their opponents on the ropes and came out looking for the knockout punch. The Stars could do no wrong in the first and Rocky Mountain couldn’t buy a bucket. The Express had no answer for Patrick Ewing and his 12 points led the home team to a 37-17 lead after one. Ewing continued his dominance in the 2nd frame, adding 21 more points, but RME took the period 44-39 to trail by 15 heading into the lockers. Coach Orlando switched to small ball and the Express left the station in the 3rd, coming out of halftime on a 38-23 run to knot the game at 99, completely erasing Fresno’s game-high 24-point lead. The teams traded hoops the rest of the period and Rocky Mountain had a two-point edge heading into the 4th. Alex English had 16 points and Walter Davis 15 in the 3rd period comeback. When the huddle broke up, Alvan Adams scored inside and Detlef Schrempf nailed a trey to give Rocky Mountain their biggest lead of 7. The teams see-sawed until both had 145 points with 1:24 to go. The Stars stepped up their “D” and hit their clutch shots to hang on and win 151-145. Magic Johnson scored 10 of his 24 in the 4th period. He tacked on 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Ewing finished with 47 points to earn Game MVP and Eastern Conference Finals MVP. He averaged 28.2 points per game on 60-90 FG(.667). He rebounded at a 7.4 clip and blocked 1.8 shots. Michael Cage added 28 points and 16 rebounds as the Stars scored 88 points in the paint. English finished with 36 and Davis 33 for Rocky Mountain. Fresno did miss 11 free throws and committed 33 turnovers(19 on steals). The big first period is what won this one. A big congratulations to Brandon for a great series – all games played head-to-head. A couple of bounces here, a couple of bounces there and this series could have had a different outcome.