The Ukiah Daily Journal
What turns out as final game for Run TMC
This story is about the last game Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin played together. They didn’t know it at the time. Nobody did. But six months later, on opening night of the 1991-92 season, the Warriors traded Richmond to the Sacramento Kings for rookie Billy Owens. So ended the wondrous run of Run TMC.
There were no hanging heads, no tears in the Warriors dressing room Tuesday night, and that’s just how it should have been.
The Warriors couldn’t have been any more competitive. They lost one game when a three-point shot narrowly missed, and Tuesday night they took the great Lakers beyond the limit before finally succumbing 124-119 in overtime.
They were too proud to be beaten, and that didn’t change after the game.
“It’s disappointing to lose,” said Chris Mullin, “but we lost to a great team and we played hard. We played our hearts out ... I’m very proud.”
The Warriors left nothing out on the floor. They gave everything they had, without exception. Coach Don Nelson’s shirt, a blue Oxford, was so sweat-stained, you’d have thought he played.
It was a little tougher for Nelson to swallow this pill. It’s always tougher for the coach. What ate at Nelson was the layup Sam Perkins scored to tie the score at 108-108 with the Warriors three seconds from victory. Perkins took an inbounds pass 15 feet from the basket and rolled through the lane almost untouched.
“We played an almostperfect game. We just made a big error at the wrong time,” Nelson said. “To give up a layup at that time (of the game) ... I’m not gonna look at that film for a long time.”
The Warriors’ season, all 91 games, came down to two Mitch Richmond shots, and he missed both of them.
Neither was easy, by any stretch of the imagination. There was no shame in it — none at all — and maybe that’s why Richmond was able to smile when he emerged from the showers and found the boss, owner Jim Fitzgerald, seated in front of his locker stall.
The first big shot came at the end of regulation, right after Perkins’ tying basket. Richmond had to step between two Lakers at the top of the key to even launch it. The other shot, with the Warriors down three in the final seconds of overtime, was a three-pointer with Terry Teagle draped all over him.
“As it left my hand, I knew it didn’t look so good,” Richmond said.
Richmond couldn’t even remember the first shot. That’s what kind of game this turned into. After an absolutely dreadful first half, marked by poor shooting and shabby play, the two teams put on a show worthy of enshrinement in Springfield, Mass.
Richmond finished with 26 points. Hardaway had 27 and a team playoff-record 20 assists, nine of them coming in the first quarter.
It was reassuring to see Mullin go out in style. There is a God. In this series, Mullin had one of the best games of his life, followed by two of the worst. He went out with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Throughout, he was a class act.
“After those last two games, I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I mean, you’re playing so well and then, all of a sudden, you think you lost your game overnight. You’re thinking, ‘ What’s goin’ on?’ So many thoughts run through your head.”
So many thoughts run through your head now, but one keeps ringing: The Warriors played five more games than anybody expected — five, at least.
Tuesday night, they almost made it six. The Warriors led 90-78 in the fourth quarter.
“What a great experience for this young team,” said Nelson, “to play this great Laker team, to battle ‘em. I’ve always said you never gain total respect till you beat a team, but I think we gained some ‘cause we played hard and we played fair and we played ‘em pretty darn even for a while.”