The Hawks, in winning their fifth in a row and 15th straight at home, needed the clutch shot by Rivers because Paul Pressey of the Bucks sank two three-point baskets in the final 20 seconds.
The Bucks were again without Sidney Moncrief, their best player, who is injured. In his absence, Pressey, in addition to trying to stop Dominique Wilkins, had to take charge of the offense.
Wilkins had 29 points and 11 rebounds, but he made only 9 of 24 shots.
The Hawks, one of the league's youngest teams, won their 39th game, five more than they won all last season. They moved to within half a game of the Philadelphia 76ers for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
"In a clutch situation," Coack Mike Fratello said, "we usually want to go to Dominique, but they were all over him. Doc had to take the shot, but I didn't expect him to bank it in."
Washington 110, Boston 108--Gus Williams sank a 30-foot, desperation three-pointer with five seconds left in overtime at Landover, Md. to stop the Celtics' latest winning streak at eight.
One of the reasons the Celtics lost for the 12th time in 62 games was the poor shooting of Larry Bird. He was 10 for 30. One of the ones that went in was a short jumper with seven seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 99-99 and sent it into overtime.
In overtime Bird made two free throws to tie the score before Williams hit with the bomb. After the bomb, Danny Ainge was fouled and made one of two free throw attempts.
Kevin McHale scored 33 points for the Celtics and Robert Parish had 25 rebounds and 16 points. Both wore out in overtime, partly because Bill Walton suffered a broken nose in the second quarter and never returned.
Manute Bol blocked eight shots for the Bullets, made three of his four shots and had 10 rebounds in 40 minutes.
Houston 126, San Antonio 117--Ralph Sampson scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Rockets to their 30th win at home in 33 games.
The Spurs made 19 of 20 shots in the first quarter to build a 46-27 lead. But without center Artis Gilmore, who has a leg injury, they couldn't handle Sampson. Sampson also had 16 rebounds and seven assists.
Dantley, following another altercation with Jazz Coach Frank Layden, was sent home to Salt Lake City after leading the Jazz to a victory at Phoenix Friday night.
The Jazz was also without center Mark Eaton who has a sprained ankle.
Kiki Vandeweghe scored the 10,000th point of his career. He led the Trail Blazers with 29 points.
Golden State 138, Cleveland 128--Purvis Short scored 39 points at Oakland to lead the Warriors to victory.