Wilkins Provides All Highlights at Sports Arena : Soaring Hawks Send the Clippers to Their Third Straight Defeat, 109-82

Times Staff Writer

All-Star forward Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks put on a spectacular slam dunk clinic Wednesday night against the Clippers.

Wilkins, who sat out the National Basketball Assn. slam dunk contest last Saturday in Seattle because he had a sore back, put on his own dunking contest at the Sports Arena.

Wilkins scored 35 points, including three awesome dunks, as the Hawks cruised to an easy 109-82 win over the Clippers at the Sports Arena. It was the Clippers' third straight loss. Their 7-40 record is the worst in the NBA.

"I wished I could have used them in the dunking contest," Wilkins said. "But I had a bad back and I didn't want to hurt it. I thought about getting into the contest, but I talked to my mother and she didn't want me to get in it.

"I think I would have won the dunking contest (which was won by Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan). I'd be lying if I didn't say it.

"I'd rate these dunks tonight in the top 10. I don't have any names for them. The only thing I know is that they go in."

Wilkins made 14 of 25 shots from the floor and 7 of 11 free throws in 36 minutes. He also had 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. He got a standing ovation from the crowd of 10,841 when he left the game with 4:44 left in the fourth period.

Said teammate Kevin Willis of Wilkins: "It was just another display of awesomeness. If anyone gets in his way he just dunks over them."

Said Atlanta guard Glenn (Doc) Rivers of Wilkins: "He's always incredible. When he plays like that he helps the whole team."

Wilkins has scored 54, 46 and 35 points in his last three games.

"I'm back in my rhythm and I feel good," Wilkins said. "Once I get in the open floor I feel I can score on anyone."

Wilkins had a power slam dunk following a missed shot by teammate John Battle in the first half and he followed with two spectacular power dunks in the second half.

The first was an incredible double pump, two-handed reverse slam off a pass from teammate Jon Koncak with 58 seconds left in the third period.

Wilkins followed that with another circus-style dunk in the fourth period. He drove the key, took off at the free throw line, put the ball down to his legs and then double pumped before slamming it down with five minutes left in the game.

"It was typical Dominique," said Clipper forward Kenny Fields, who guarded Wilkins. "There wasn't too much I could do because I pulled my groin in the first quarter."

Wilkins scored 12 points in the first period, 9 in the second, 9 in the third and 5 in the fourth.

The Clippers stayed close to the Hawks for most of the first three quarters, but Atlanta blew them out with a 22-5 blitz at the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth.

Wilkins, normally a forward, was moved to guard during the Hawks' scoring spree.

"The critical point was in the third period when it was 71-64 and we manipulated our guards, (and) bring in Dominique," Atlanta Coach Mike Fratello said.

"That wasn't a great game for Dominique," Fratello continued. "A lot of shots he usually hits didn't fall. But he works to get every basket. He has the ability to be an explosive player."

Forward Michael Cage and guard Mike Woodson had 16 points apiece for the Clippers. Cage also had 11 rebounds.

Center Benoit Benjamin had 11 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocked shots, including 5 in the first half.

Guard Darnell Valentine had 11 assists and 10 points.

The Hawks looked like they were going to blow the Clippers away early after they jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead just 1 minute and 9 seconds into the game.

However, the Clippers regrouped and trailed 31-25 at the end of the first quarter.

Clipper Notes

The Hawks are 31-16 and have won three straight. . . . The Clippers open a two-game Texas trip Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs. They play in Dallas Saturday night. The game against the Mavericks, which was scheduled to be broadcast by Channel 5, won't be telecast. However, Channel 5 will substitute the Clippers' March 31 game against Dallas in place of Saturday night's game. . . . Clipper forward Rory White missed the game with a back strain. Atlanta guard Mike McGee didn't play because of a sore right knee.

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