Portland was probably the best team in the National Basketball Association last year before Bill Walton hurt his foot. Now, with Walton out at least until January, and possibly not returning to the team at all, some people are suggesting Portland might not even reach the playoffs this year.
Mychal Thompson, the NBA's top draft choice for Portland, may have a few things to say about that. Thompson, a wiry 6-foot-11 pivotman, poured in 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Blazers to a 115-112 triumph over the Kansas City Kings Tuesday night.
The Blazers are not only playing without Walton. Strong forward Maurice Lucas and small forward Bob Gross are also on the injured list. Starting guards Lionel Hollins and Dave Twardzik were also injured Tuesday and were expected to miss last night's game against Denver.
Thompson wiped out a 32-point effort by Kansas City's Otis Birdsong.
"Mychal is very active and very good," said kansas City Coach Cotton Fitzimmons.
Portland Coach Jack Ramsay said Thompson "is going to be a good NBA player. He was outstanding in the opener, and he had a great second game. He also was outstanding on defense."
"It felt good," Thompson said. "Not the points, but the win. As the game neared the end, Jack (Ramsay) kept calling my number and I'm not going to argue with him. I just took my normal shots and they went in."
Asked about pressure because of all the Portland injuries, the young man from the Bahamas Shrugged.
"I don't mind," Thompson said. "If they want to give me the ball, that's okay with me." Sonics 120, Knicks 109
Seattle's Lonnie Shelton, Dennis Johnson and Freddie Brown each scored 20 points and Jack Sikma helped the Sonics dominate the backboards as they soundly beat the Knicks. Marvin Webster scored only seven points against his former teammates. Cavaliers 113, Lakers 111
Foots Walker tossed in a career-high 26 points and Campy Russell flipped in 16 of his 22 points in the second half to pace Cleveand to its second straight victory and hand the Lakers their third straight loss. Adrian Dantley topped all scores with 31 points for Los Angeles.
Jazz 114, Pistons 109
Pete Maravich broke out a scoring slump, hitting 17 of his game-high 36 points in the third quarter, to lead New Orleans. The Jazz held Bob Lanier, who averaged 35 points in this first two games, to 18 points.
Clippers 99, Bulls 94
San Diego, with Lloyd Free scoring 29 points, won its first NBA game after three losses. Charles Dudley and Wilbur Holland combined for 10 points in the last three minutes for the Bulls. But Randy Smith stole two Chicago passes and flipped the ball to Free and nick Weatherspoon to put San Diego ahead, 91-87, with one minute to go.
Spurs 110, Suns 107
Larry Kenon Scored 39 points on 15 of 23 field-goal shooting and George Gelvin notched 25 points to help San Antonio hold off a late Phoenix rally. The Spurs raced to a 26-14 lead in the first quarter, shooting 53 percent from the floor to only 20 percent for the Suns. San Antonio led, 69-44, at half-time but Phoenix closed to within one, 106-105, with 24 seconds remaining.