Condors 58-34 (3-5)
Blizzard 68-26 (5-3)
|Score (click for boxscore)||Game MVP||Hi Points||Hi Rebounds||Hi Assists|
|1. Blizzard 186, Condors 182 OT||Karl Malone||38 Akeem Olajuwon||15 K.Malone/B.Cartwright||15 Isiah Thomas|
|2. Blizzard 163, Condors 147||Clyde Drexler||37 Karl Malone||14 Karl Malone||11 Clyde Drexler|
|3. Condors 137, Blizzard 136||Akeem Olajuwon||28 A.Olajuwon/K.Malone||20 Karl Malone||13 Isiah Thomas|
|4. Condors 149, Blizzard 139||Cliff Levingston||33 Mark Aguirre||12 Cliff Levingston||10 C.Drexler/I.Thomas|
|5. Blizzard 132, Condors 131||Clyde Drexler||38 Clyde Drexler||12 B.Cartwright/K.Duckworth||7 Isiah Thomas|
|6. Condors 137, Blizzard 132||Akeem Olajuwon||27 Mark Aguirre||16 Akeem Olajuwon||10 Clyde Drexler|
|7. Blizzard 156, Condors 130||Clyde Drexler||31 Karl Malone||15 Akeem Olajuwon||12 C.Drexler/I.Thomas|
Game 1 – The Western Conference Finals got underway between the two teams that upset their higher seeds. Buffalo averaged 150.3 points and Costa Mesa 148.3 in their head-to-head contests during the regular season, with the Blizzard taking 5 of 8. The first quarter of this game would prove no different. Mark Aguirre and Akeem Olajuwon led their respective teams with 16 points each as the crowd at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium was all hyped up seeing their team up 50-34 after one. Both teams added 45 more points to their total in the 2nd, with Purvis Short’s 10 points topping Costa Mesa. Kevin Duckworth had 8 to lead BUF. Olajuwon scored 8 more in the 3rd and was countered by Karl Malone’s 10. The score was 131-118 in favor of the home team heading into the 4th period. With 1:17 remaining, the Blizzard had a 164-157 advantage. The cardiac Condors went to work again. Mel Turpin hit a jumper to make it a 5-point game. Clyde Drexler hit a pair from the stripe and it was a 7-point differential again. The teams traded baskets and with 0:24 on the clock, it was BUF 168, CMC 163. Carey Scurry completed the hoop and a foul to make it a 2-point game. Sedale Threatt scored for BUF, then Harold Pressley hit from 3-land to bring the Condors within one. Malone was then fouled and went to the free throw line for two. The main reason CMC was still in the ballgame was because Buffalo would eventually miss 26 FTA before the game would be over. Malone made the first one, but missed the 2nd and Turpin rebounded it with 8 seconds to go. He got the ball up court to Rickey Green and with 3 seconds left, Green drained a jumper to knot the scoreboard and force overtime. With four players fouled out of the game, Costa Mesa was able to tie Buffalo a couple times after they built a 4-point lead, but they were out of gas. Buffalo wins the highest scoring VBA Playoff game in overtime, 186-182. The Mailman was named Game MVP with a team-high 32 points and a game-high 15 points. Buffalo had six players with 20+ points. Olajuwon was the game’s high scorer with 38.
Game 2 – Coach Michael Cole stressed to his squad the importance of free throw shooting and committing turnovers in playoff games after escaping game one with a win in OT. The first period was a see-saw affair with Costa Mesa taking a 2-point lead after 12 minutes. Harold Pressley topped the Condors with 9 points; the Mailman had 10 for Buffalo. Karl Malone delivered 12 more points in the second as BUF took an 89-81 lead into halftime. The Blizzard kept Costa Mesa chilly in the 3rd with Tom Chambers leading the way. He came off the bench to lead all scorers and the home crowd was delighted to be up 134-117 heading into the 4th. They knew the game wasn’t over though, having witnessed the Condors’ big comeback in the 4th of game one. It wasn’t meant to be for the visitors this game. They’d cut the lead to 8 a couple times and 7 once in the 4th, but the home squad would push it back up to double-digits. Buffalo holds serve with the 163-147 win. Pressley topped CMC with 21, Mel Turpin chipped in 20. Zeke scored 19 and handed out 10 dimes. Akeem finished with 18 points and 11 boards. The Mailman had game-highs of 37 points and 14 rebounds. Clyde the Glide was named Game MVP with a triple-double of 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He also took the ball away 4 times.
Game 3 – The furious comeback and eventual loss had the visitors running on fumes in game 2. After the game 2 loss, the Condors found themselves in a must win on their home floor. The 1st period was a classic heavyweight slugfest. The score went back and forth, neither team getting more than a 5 point advantage settling down to a 40-38 Buffalo after one. The visitors were lead by Tom Chambers 9p, Karl Malone 8p and John Battle chipped in 7. For the hometown Condors, Akeem Olajuwon had 15p and Isiah Thomas 8p. The second period was more of the same back and forth, The Condors had a small lead of 4 at the intermission, 73-69. Cliff Levingston lead the way with 11 second quarter points and Bill Cartwright had 9p for the Blizzard. The trend continued in the 3rd with neither team able to put together a run. Costa Mesa lead the whole quarter but could not shake the chilling of the Blizzard team in a low scoring quarter for these two teams. The Condors eventually held a 9 point lead at the end of three, 106-97. The Condors extended the lead to 11 with 7:51 to play. The Blizzard started applying pressure and chipped away at the lead. But the Costa Mesa squad rallied and returned the lead to 13 (137-124) with 1:47 left to play. Then the Condors were feeling pretty good about themselves and put it on cruise. The no-quit Buffalo team double downed on the pressure as they saw what the Condors did in game one. Steal – fast break dunk, Rebound – fast break dunk and foul, TO – 2 foul shots, Steal – Slam by Drexler, and we have a ballgame at 137-134 with 0:40. Olajuwon is fouled, he steps to the line and misses both FTs. Cartwright gets the ball low on the other end vs Olajuwon, a fading J falls and it’s a one point game with 21 seconds left. The Condors play keep away and the Buffalo D is not able to get a foul. The Clock runs out and the Condor fans breathe a sigh of relief and are happy to escape with a 137-136 victory. The Blizzard were lead by Malone’s 28p, 20r, 3a and Cartwright adding 18p, 12r, 2 blk. The Costa Mesa club was lead by Olajuwon’s 28P, 15r, 4stl, 5blk and Zeke helped with 27p, 13a, 4stl. The Condors are not used to being bested on the break. Buffalo was 16-18 (plus 1-1 FB3) compared to the 10-17 for Costa Mesa. A difference in the outcome was Chambers shooting only 5-11 from the charity stripe. And as well, Sid Moncrief made his first 8 FTs but was jinxed by the announcers declaration of his perfection. He went 6-10 with the pressure on to finish 14-18 from the line below his usual percentage, but just enough. With both teams pulling off big comebacks to fall short, who knows what is in store the rest of the series.
Game 4 – Costa Mesa was hoping to hold serve in the series. After a big comeback by the Blizzard that came up just short in game 3, the visitors hoped that their momentum would carry forward. Initially, it looked like it would when a Karl Malone jumper and a John Battle trey had the Blizzard storming out of the gate. But then the home team woke up and had a 10-2 run, to lead 10-7. The teams traded baskets from there in the 1st with visitors leading by one, 40-39. But, both teams’ front court starters were in foul trouble. Buffalo was led scoring wise by Tom Chambers with 9, Mark Aguirre with 8 and Kevin Duckworth chipping in 7 with starters Malone and Bill Cartwright in foul trouble. Costa Mesa was topped by Cliff Levingston’s 8 in the foul trouble absence of Mychal Thompson and Akeem Olajuwon got 8 before he had to ride the pine with his own foul trouble. The second period was more of the same as the foul woes continue for both teams’ big men while neither team could put a run together. Intermission has the home town team leading by a bucket, 76-74. Clyde Drexler and Aguirre did most of the scoring for Buffalo with 8 and 7 respectively. The Microwave got 12 in the quarter and Levingston continued his burst of scoring in Thompson’s and Olajuwon’s foul troubles. On to quarter three, where it was more of the same back and forth. Malone was forced to sit most of the period in foul trouble. But it wasn’t until 6:28 left in the quarter that the Costa Mesa got some thawing in the deadlocked 83-83 back and forth scoring affair. The Condors went on to outscore the Blizzard 23-14 the rest of the quarter to grab a 9-point lead, 106-97. Both teams had balanced scoring for the quarter. Both coaches applied some kind of pressure defense to start the second half which continued into the final period. The Blizzard got within 5 points late but could not close the rest of the gap in this game. They had to resort to fouling the Condors, after getting behind by 10. The Condor team seemed to oblige by missing several freebies to make for semi-anxious moments for the home crowd but not enough in the end. The Condors even the series at 2 apiece with the 149-139 victory. Aguirre lead the visitors with a 33p/5r/6a slash with Drexler adding a near quadruple double 24p/9r/10a/7stl. Chambers corrected his foul line follies with 8-8 from the charity stripe leading to a 24p/6r/3a/3stl line. The home town squad was led by the ‘second teamers’ Levingston (game MVP – 22p/12r/3stl) and Johnson (20p/10r/5a). The Condor SF position had terrible night for a combined 10-30 shooting from the field 5-9 from the charity stripe and 13 TO. Each team has survived a furious comeback in the first game and won the second by a decent cushion on their home floor.
Game 5 – The series returned to Buffalo Memorial Auditorium knotted at two games each. Clyde the Glide took charge of the opening period, scoring 12 points and leading the Blizzard to a 34-25 advantage. Drexler tacked on another dozen in the 2nd as Buffalo increased their lead to 64-51 at halftime. Mychal Thompson’s 9 points topped the Condors. Akeem Olajuwon was held scoreless in the first half, mostly due to foul trouble. Trailing 80-66 with 5:43 to go in the third quarter, the Costa Mesa machine got running full-steam and rolled off 12 unanswered points to make it a 2-point ballgame. Sid Moncrief scored six during that span. Buffalo rebounded to push it back to a 10-point edge before The Microwave’s free throw ended the period. The home team built another big lead, 14 points, two minutes into the 4th; but the visitors had another run in them, this time it was an 18-4 spree that made the scoreboard show 109-109 with just under 5-1/2 minutes to go. CMC kept the pressure on and built a 5-point lead at the 2:47 mark. The home crowd got on their feet and urged their team to keep fighting. There was no quit in Buffalo’s dictionary, so they scored 7 straight to go up by a deuce. Zeke drove to the hoop and tied it at 125 at 1:25. Karl Malone made one of two freebies for a one-point BUF lead. Akeem sandwiched a pair of inside buckets around a Mark Aguirre drive to the hoop and the game was 129-128 Costa Mesa with 23 ticks to go. Drexler dunked it for his game-high 38th point with 14 seconds left. Isiah Thomas nailed a jumper with 4.1 on the clock, but it left too much time for the high-powered Buffalo offense. A laser-sharp pass found Malone in close-range and he flushed it for the game-winner with 1.6 remaining. Buffalo overcame Costa Mesa’s big comeback to hold serve and put all the pressure on the Condors for game 6 at The Aerie at the Honda Center. Drexler earned MVP with 9 steals, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and was 11-14 from the charity stripe. Malone chipped in 27 and Bill Cartwright had 21 points and 12 boards. Isiah and Thompson each tallied 21 to lead the guests. Olajuwon had 10 points and 8 rebounds, but was limited to 21 minutes.
Game 6 – Game 6 is obviously a must win for the Condors. With the team back home, the fans will need to help propel the Condors to a Game 7. The teams continue the heavyweight bout, with combatants trading punches. Neither team can land the KO vs the other. The Home team has a slight advantage after the 1st period, 32-29. They were led by Akeem Olajuwon with 8 points while the visitors were topped by Karl Malone. More of the same, however the Blizzard take a 68-67 lead with Tom Chambers and Clyde Drexler leading the way with 9 and 8, respectively. The Condors had balanced scoring with 9 players scoring no more than 6 points. Malone was held scoreless due to foul trouble that sent him to the bench for most of the 3rd period. Vinnie Johnson and Sidney Moncrief led the home team to a 7-point lead at the with 8 and 6 points scored respectively, 105-98. As usual the trailing team made a comeback. In this case, the Blizzard waited to make their move. With 2:16 left the Condors were feeling pretty good about a Game 7 with 131-120 advantage. However both teams were in foul. Malone had fouled out with Chambers and Bill Cartwright having 5 each. The Condors had Isiah Thomas disqualified with 6 fouls and Olajuwon with 5. Mark Aguirre nails a 3 and Chambers slams it home to cut the lead to 6 with 1:54. After Cliff Levingston nets a short “J”, Chambers went back to the well with another flush. Then there was a missed Condor shot and Cartwright got hacked on a shot inside. The pair of made FTs brings the spread to 4, 133-129. At 0:51, Olajuwon nails a clutch jumper to expand the spread. Both teams miss chances, John Battle gets open for a trey and he makes it. The lead is now just 3, with 33 seconds left. The Home town crowd is now holding their collective breath. Pressure on the inbound produces a steal by Drexler. Chambers is open beyond the arc for the tie, but Harold Pressley slaps the ball off Chambers knee, Condor ball! 22 seconds left when Rickey Green brings the ball across mid court against the pressure, a pass to Short, Blizzard looking for a stop and let their hot 3 point shooting tie the game. Short finds Green at the top of the circle. Green is feeling good about the shot though and nails the fadeaway to extend the lead to 5 with 0:01 left. The Blizzard run out of clock, and the Condors survive the day and force a Game 7 in Buffalo. The vistors were led by Drexler’s 18p\10a\3stl and Aguirre’s 27p\8r. The Condors were lead by Olajuwon’s near triple double 18p/16r/8blk/5stl and was helped by Levingston (16p/10r) and Short (20p on 10-13 fg shooting) off the bench. Anything can happen in a Game 7 as they say and with these two teams squaring off for a final time this season should be one to remember.
Game 7 – The Western Conference Playoffs had come down to one game to see who would face the Fresno Stars in the 1987-88 VBA Championship. So far, the home team had won all 6 games of this series and the crowd at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium hoped that trend would last for one more night. After 4 minutes of play, Buffalo was up 18-12. The Blizzard then outscored the Condors 20-7 to double them up on the scoreboard, 38-19. Costa Mesa was called for foul after foul and initially, the home team wasn’t hitting their freebies. Once they did, they started to pull away. At the end of one, CMC was shooting .353 from the field while BUF posted a .630 clip. Buffalo was 13-17 from the line from the Condors’ 13 fouls. I think everyone in the arena was shocked at Buffalo’s 46-27 advantage. Purvis Short topped Costa Mesa with 7; Bill Cartwright and Karl Malone had 13 and 12 respectively to lead BUF. The second quarter looked a lot like the first with CMC unable to buy a bucket, shooting just .361 this time. The scoreboard read 90-58 at the half as the home crowd was going berserk. Clyde Drexler had 12 points in the 2nd for BUF, Mychal Thompson had 8 to lead CMC. Buffalo was an orginal franchise named the P-Town Ballers in the VBA’s Inaugural Draft. World B. Free, Cartwright, Bob McAdoo, Toby Knight and Mike Dunleavy were the first five players drafted into the franchise August 17, 2014. This was their 5th season under coach Michael Cole and they appeared in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last year getting knocked out in the 2nd round by the Minnesota Muskies after defeating the Philadelphia Fire in the opening round. Now, at halftime, they were 24 minutes from advancing to their first ever VBA Finals appearance. Coach Cole reminded his squad in the lockers though, that Costa Mesa was an explosive team that can shut you down defensively and score in bunches, so he didn’t want to see any letdown on the court. They listened intently and came out and built a 45-point lead (117-72) with 2:17 to go in the 3rd. The Blizzard put the starters back in to begin the 4th, with the intention of bringing them out one-by-one for the crowd to appreciate. Trailing 126-81, like they had done so many times in this series, Costa Mesa finally flicked a switch and all of a sudden could do no wrong. They pressured Buffalo into steals and turnovers and were making all their shots. The Condor express put together a 20-2 run that forced Cole to call timeout and get his starters back on the court. That move resuscitated all the home faithful who were about to have heart attacks. The teams played pretty even from there and the Buffalo Blizzard advanced to the VBA Championship with a 156-130 victory. The Glide was named Game MVP with 25 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. Malone led all scorers with 31 points and pulled down 11 boards to boot. Cartwright was good for 26 points, going 10-11 from the floor and 6-8 from the stripe. Short was the leading scorer for Costa Mesa with 20. Zeke chipped in 18 points and 12 dimes. Olajuwon had 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Congratulations to the Condors for another great season and making it to their 5th straight Western Conference Finals. Clyde Drexler was named MVP of the Conference Finals with a 24.7 point average. He shot .524 from the floor and .830 from the line. He averaged 9.0 assits, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 1.5 blocks.