Costa Mesa
Condors 54-32 (1-5)

Muskies 65-17 (5-1)

Score (click for boxscore) Game MVP Hi Points Hi Rebounds Hi Assists
1. Muskies 140, Condors 127 Danny Ainge 33 Charles Barkley 16 Roy Tarpley 10 D.Ainge/I.Thomas
2. Condors 150, Muskies 125 Mel Turpin 32 Charles Barkley 11 Charles Oakley 12 Isiah Thomas
3. Condors 115, Muskies 99 Akeem Olajuwon 31 Charles Barkley 19 Charles Barkley  8 Isiah Thomas
4. Muskies 137, Condors 123 Charles Barkley 52 Charles Barkley  9 C.Barkley/R.Tarpley 14 Isiah Thomas
5. Condors 118, Muskies 111 Isiah Thomas 35 Charles Barkley 21 Charles Barkley 12 Isiah Thomas
6. Condors 134, Muskies 133 Isiah Thomas 45 Charles Barkley 20 Robert Parish 14 Isiah Thomas
Costa Mesa wins series 4-2

Game 1 – This is the 5th time the Minnesota Muskies and Costa Mesa Condors have squared off in the playoffs. Each team has won 2 series en route to the VBA Finals. Their record against each other is 12-12. This is the 2nd Semi-Final matchup the other 3 have been in the Western Conference Finals. Costa Mesa is tied with Callaway and Philadelphia with 7 playoff appearances. This game started off with the two teams matching scoring for the first 5+ minutes. Minnesota then scored 8 unanswered points to take a 7-point lead with 5:29 to go. CMC went on a 7-2 run to make it a 2-point game again. Kiki Vandeweghe pulled up for a transition 3 with 15 seconds left and it ripped thru the net to give the home town Muskies a 10-point lead after one. Danny Ainge led all scorers with 11. The visitors had a trio with 6 points each. Sir Charles tookover the reins of his team in the second, tallying 12 points. Purvis Short topped the Condors with 7. At halftime, the score was: MNM 72, CMC 61. Costa Mesa had no answer for Barkley in the 3rd. The Round Mound of Rebound scored 13 more points. After making 2 free throws to put his team up 101-84, Barkley headed to the bench for a breather. The Condors took full advantage, closing out the frame on a 13-3 spree, getting the deficit under double-digits heading into the 4th. Even with Charles back on the court, CMC’s hot streak continued. They opened the 4th scoring 7 of the period’s first 9 points, making it a 2-point game. The Muskies regrouped, going on an 11-4 run and then, midway thru the the quarter, added another 13-2 run to build their biggest lead of 19 points. The Condors tried to rally, but ran out of time, falling to MNM 140-127. It really looked like the momentum had shifted early in the 4th and the crowd at the Barn feared the Condors would push them to the buzzer. Sir Charles finished with a game-high 33 points. Ainge was named MVP with 24 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Robert Parish provided 23 points and 10 boards. Roy Tarpley had 16 rebounds, 9 of them offensive. Harold Pressley’s 20 points topped Costa Mesa. Mychal Thompson and Akeem Olajuwon had 16 apiece. MNM shot .609, CMC .479.

Game 2 – The Condors’ coach was disappointed in his team’s performance on the fast break in game one, so, what did they work on in practice – you got it, the FB fundamentals. It paid huge dividends right from tipoff. Ten Condors scored in the first frame as they opened up a 19-point lead with 3-1/2 minutes to go, settling for a 47-30 lead after one. Nothing seemed to work for Minnesota and Charles Barkley earned some pine time with early foul trouble. He would score only 4 points in the first. Akeem Olajuwon topped CMC with 10; Kiki Vandeweghe tallied 11 for the home team. Purvis Short took control in the 2nd, firing in 12 points for Costa Mesa. Robert Parish scored a dozen for the Muskies and the teams played to a 37-37 quarter. Short headed into the lockers with 19 points in 10 minutes floor time. Sir Charles had 15 for MNM, but was only on the court 10 minutes, basically half of what he normally is. For the first half, CMC outshot MNM .708 to .482. Barkley was able to play most of the 3rd, scoring 13 points. The visitors played a lot of subs with their big lead and they managed to increase it by 8 with a 43-35 frame. Mel Turpin was doing his best Olajuwon imitation, tallying 11 points. The Barn’s faithful hung in there, thinking their favorite players would go on a 21-2 run and quickly get back into the game. It didn’t happen and they started heading for the exits in the last few minutes as the Costa Mesa Condors evened the series with a 150-125 victory. It looked like CMC would break their on playoff FG% record (.719 vs Sun Valley 4-17-85), but missed a few shots late to finish at .697 (third best in VBA Playoff History). Turpin had 23 points, 4 steals and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes, making 10-12 FG attempts to earn Game MVP. Short led the Condors with 25. Barkley and Parish finished with 32 and 28 respectively. The series shifts now to The Aerie at the Honda Center knotted at one game apiece.

Game 3 – With playoff records back even at 13-13 between these storied franchises and after the Condors ‘stole’ a W in Minnesota, the Costa Mesa club looked to take advantage of the Home Court Advantage that swung their direction.  The visiting Minnesota squad would be without one of their weapons in that Kiki Vandeweghe was hobbled and was a gametime decision to sit this one out. The home team used the home town crowd to energize the team to a quick open.  The home team took that energy to a 21-6 surge in the first 5:25.  It started to look like the game 2 domination again, but the Muskies finally responded to the challenge when they went their own run of 15-2.  Then the momentum swung back to the home squad to close out the first quarter 36-23. Mychal Thompson lead the home team with 10 in the quarter while the Muskies had balanced scoring.  The Condors extended the lead to 20 on the strength of Akeem Olajuwon’s 7 points in the first 5 minutes of the second quarter.  The Muskies started applying a full court trap to push Condors to turnover the ball.  The Condors slowed down their normal attacking run and gun offense to minimize the mistakes handling the ball.  That said the teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter to finish the half at 62-48 to the delight of the hometown fans. The 3rd quarter had the Muskies outscore the Condors but it was only by 2 points.  The Muskies still applied the pressure and that contributed to the visitors to pull the lead down to 6 with 2 minutes left in the third but the Costa Mesa scored 8 of the last 10 points of the quarter to a 87-75 score.  The Condor teamwork bent to the pressure by Sir Charles and Company but did not break  Barkley and Craig Hodges got 8 each in the quarter while the Condors had balanced scoring. The fourth quarter continued the battle of the first 3 quarters, but carried the urgency for the visiting squad.  The home crowd held their collective breath as Minnesota pulled within 9 and then had stretch of the game from 8:09 to 2:00 where only 16 points were scored by both teams combined (including a stretch of 2:43 neither team scored).  The Condor fans turned restless as the usual high octane scoring of their favored team stalled but the Muskies could do no better.  The fans finally exhaled when the home squad started hitting their FTs, (for most of the game the Condors were barely over 50% from the line).  The Condors closed out with the help of FTs on a 8-3 run to close out a 115-99 victory to send home the a happy crowd. Barkley got his usual 31p 19r 4a but had 7to.  Sir Charles was aided by Hodges 20p (5-10 from 3Point land) while the Muskies missed the glass cleaning of Tarpley who had to sit due to early foul trouble.  The Condors needed and got balanced scoring with no one getting more than 20 points.  Olajuwon was Game MVP with a 19p, 12r, 6st, 2bl.  The ‘bench squad all had double digit +/- scores that emphasizes that team effort that was needed in the tough battle.  The Condors look to use the home court energy again to gain a commanding series lead, but the Muskies showed that they are not just going to let the Condors have it.

Game 4 – The Minnesota Muskies found themselves down 2 games to 1 in enemy territory. With the Costa Mesa Condors having appeared in the last two VBA Finals, coach Kory Klecker knew it’d be a tough row to hoe if his squad lost this one. Sir Charles put the Muskies on his back in the first period, making buckets and drawing fouls, including sending Mychal Thompson to the bench just 2:13 into the contest (he would manage only 11:27 for the game). When the first period buzzer sounded, Barkley had 22 points and his team was up 46-34. The Microwave heated up in the 2nd and his 8 points pushed the Condors to cut MNM’s lead to 3 on several occasions. Minnesota took a 72-67 advantage into the visitor’s locker room. During the first half of the 3rd quarter, Costa Mesa would manage to keep within 5 points. Minnesota put a little more space on the scoreboard as Barkley’s 13 points would build a 13-point cushion heading into the final frame. With just under 3 minutes gone in the 4th, Minnesota would take a 21-point lead, their biggest of the game. The Muskie faithful would continue to hold their breath as no lead could be big enough for the high-octane Condors. CMC would manage to cut the lead to 12 before it was over, but they simply ran out of time. Barkley finished with 52 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. He was 16-21 from the field and 20-24 from the line. He broke his playoff record of 38 against these same Condors last year on May 23rd. He tied his career-high he set on April 8, 1988 against the Philadelphia Fire. Kiki Vandeweghe chipped in 20 and Roy Tarpley was good for 19 points and 9 boards. Akeem Olajuwon tallied 18 points and 8 rebounds to top the home team. Vinnie Johnson and Harold Pressley each added 16. Zeke scored 14 and dished out 14 dimes. The series heads back to The Barn with Minnesota reclaiming home court advantage.

Game 5 – With Kiki Vandeweghe sitting this one out due to an injury, veteran Robert Parish got the start with Charles Barkley sliding down into the SF slot. The Chief responded with 11 points in the first 8 minutes to help the Muskies overcome an early 15-9 deficit and take a 32-31 advantage after one despite being outshot from the floor .636-.345. 12 offensive rebounds and 11-14 FTA kept MNM in the game. Zeke topped the Condors with 8. Isiah hit two buckets in the last 35 seconds of the first half, finishing the period with another 8 points and giving CMC a 60-54 halftime lead. Minnesota managed to shoot only .333 in the 2nd quarter. Barkley had 16 points and 16 rebounds, but was only 4-13 from the field. Sir Charles shifted into the paint in the 3rd period and he responded by matching his first half point total and his squad pulled within 3 heading into the 4th. The final frame wasn’t friendly to the home team. Parish fouled out with 8:31 to go and Barkley joined him on the pine at the 6:43 mark. Shortly after Barkley departed, the Condors built a 116-100 lead. Craig Hodges started launching missiles and managed to hit 3 in a row and all of a sudden, The Barn’s faithful had hope. The game really slowed down and Minnesota committed a couple of shot clock violations trying to get Hodges more trey attempts. Neither team scored in the last 70 seconds and Costa Mesa escaped with a 117-111 victory. The series shifts back to The Aerie at the Honda Center for game 6 with the defending Western Conference Champions up 3 games to 2. This game was a nail-biter throughout with 9 ties and 22 lead changes. Thomas was named Game MVP with 26 points and 12 assists. Harold Pressley chipped in 17. Akeem scored 11 points and hauled down 10 boards, but only played 23 minutes due to foul trouble. Mychal Thompson managed only 19-1/2 minutes and didn’t score. Barkley led all scorers with 35 and finished with 21 rebounds, 2 shy of the VBA Playoff Record. Roy Tarpley had 17 points and 13 rebounds, but shot only 36%.

Game 6 – After Costa Mesa ‘stole’ a game in Minnesota’s home arena, the Muskies had their backs against the wall.  Hoping to steal a win on the road to bring it back to the home floor for a game 7.  Things started off very bad with the Hometown Condors jumping to a 9-0 lead. Charles Barkley finally broke the seal at the 8:36 left in the 1st.  Then the Condors went cold and the Muskies rattled off a 10-0 run to get within 1, 17-16 with 4:09 left in the 1st.  The two teams traded baskets to end the 1st at 31-27 in favor of the hometown squad.  Barkley continued his dominance in the paint by scoring 18 points, leading all scorers.The Muskies rallied the troops and went on a 8-2 run to start the 2nd, and briefly took the lead at the 9:50 mark.  The Condors recaptured the lead and narrowly held the lead by no more than 7 points until the last minute where the took it to nine.  However the Muskies narrowed it to 5 by making the last two baskets before intermission, 67-62. The Chief lead the Muskies with 14 points in the quarter while Melvin Turpin came off the bench to score 9. The Costa Mesa crowd grew restless as they sensed the #1 West Conference seed was not going to go away easily.  The quarter went back and forth: Muskies score the first 7 points to take a 2 point lead, Condors answer to take a 6 point lead, Muskies again close it to 1 with 6 minutes to play in the 3rd.  Condors again extend the lead to 8, 97-89 at the end of the 3rd.  The story so far is the balance scoring of the Condors in spite of their poor shooting from the field and the line (both at or below 50% for the game), has a 8 point lead over the monster games of the Minnesota tandem of Barkley (37p) and Robert Parish (18p 15r) with Roy Tarpley in foul trouble but contributing 13p 9r so far thru 3 periods.Then on of the most exciting quarters of basketball since I joined the league.  With Minnesota applying pressure to start the quarter coupled with great defense in general, they start the quarter on a 10-4 run on their way to a 38-23 run to take a 7 point lead with 2:54 to go in the game.  Parish put the Muskies on his back with 19 fourth quarter points.  The Condors had no answer for Parish and started applying full court pressure of their own.  After 2 Barkley FTs, the Muskies still have a 7 point lead with 2:28 to go.  After a Purvis Short basket and a pressure induced air ball out of bounds by Tarpley the Condors are down by 5 with the ball and 1:45 to play. Isiah Thomas drives the lane and is met by Tarpley.  Thomas skies it out of Tarpley’s reach to kiss it off the glass, Muskies 129 Condors 126, 94 ticks left in the game.  Parish passes out a double team, an errant pass but Tarpley saves it and shoots. Akeem Olajuwon tips it, but Barkley corrals the rebound.  87 ticks left – Barkley against a double team shoots, misses, Parish with the rebound.  81 seconds left – under pressure Parish turns the ball over trying to get the ball to a wide open Hodges.  61 seconds left (MNM 129 CMC 126) – Thomas drives the lane, and passes up the shot to dish to Mychal Thompson for a short jumper-SPLASH, one point ball game.  50 ticks left – John Lucas dishes to Parish in the paint SWISH, back to 3 point differential.  39 seconds – Thompson gets a pass at the blocks, the shot rattles out, Vinny Johnson rebounds tosses it back to reset, but Lucas fouls Johnson a 68% FT shooter. The Microwave cooly buries both freebies.  32 seconds left (MNM 131 CMC 130) – Parish is fed down low, shoots thru the double team – miss.  18 seconds left – Tarpley gets the offensive board and is double teamed, spins to get himself free and banks in his shot. Coach Landhuis calls timeout to set up his 3 point offense.   11 seconds left (MNM 133 CMC 130)  Coach Landhuis has Harold Pressley enter the ball game to try and get a three to tie the game.  The ball is inbounded in the front court post timeout to Thomas, who promptly ignores the elaborate play designed by coach Landhuis.  Thomas head fakes and penetrates the lane catching Craig Hodges off guard thinking he was setting up for a 3.  Hodges falls to the ground, Thomas drives and shoots, what will be the call?!?  The ref signals a blocking foul on Hodges and the basket counts!!!  8 seconds left (MNM 133 CMC 132)  – The home town crowd is in a frenzy as they like their chances getting a tie in regulation with Thomas a 78% FT at the line.  Thomas dribbles, sets, and shoots – clangs high off the rim.  The crowd lets out a collective groan at the missed chance to tie. BUT Olajuwon brings down the rebound and shoots a short J over the confused Muskies.  BURIES IT!!!  The Aerie crowd blows the roof off!!  Coach Landhuis calls timeout despite giving the Muskies the ball in the front court to get his best defenders in the game.  5 seconds left (MNM 133 CMC 134)  – This game is far from over as the very capable Ainge, Hodges, Vandeweghe, Barkley and Parish get set for the last shot and the win to force a game 7.  Parish inbounds the ball over the swarming Condor defense to the only available Muskie, sharp shooting Hodges in three point territory.  Hodges puts up an ‘awkward shot for the lead’.  The ball circles the rim and falls out.  An ensuing fight for the rebound has Sid Moncrief controlling the ball and he quickly passes to Thomas down the court to run out the clock.  Pandemonium erupts in the Aerie as the Condors advance for the fifth year in a row to the Conference Finals.  The Muskies have nothing to be ashamed of as they dominated in the paint shooting 32-42 inside, 7-10 Off Rebound.  Chief finished with 37p 20r 2bl but had 9 TO, Barkley finished up with 45p 5r but 7 TO, and the team as a whole shot 53% from the field.  The Condors had a clutch triple-double by Thomas 22p 12r 14a while rest of the team had balanced scoring with 7 players in double digits not including Thomas.  The West Conference Finals will have two high flying offenses with both Costa Mesa and Buffalo in the top 3 in team scoring in the league.  Costa Mesa will have their work cut out for them to contain Drexler, Aguirre, Karl Malone and supporting cast.