NBA Playoff Roundup : Hawks Continue to Have Problems, Lose to Pacers, 96-87
The Atlanta Hawks figured this was the year that a team would put an end to the domination of the NBA by the Boston Celtics and Lakers. The Hawks were thinking they were just the team that could do it.
Maybe, the Hawks have been thinking too far ahead. Or maybe they have been reading the clippings telling them how good they are.
Whatever, despite all their talent and the brilliant play of Dominique Wilkins, the Hawks are having a difficult time getting through the first round.
They had a tough time winning the first two games of their best-of-five series with stubborn Indiana, although they were played at Atlanta. They took a 2-0 lead because Kevin Willis sank a short hook in the last minute Sunday for a 94-93 Atlanta win.
Rookie Chuck Person made sure the Hawks didn’t sweep. He had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists Wednesday night at Indianapolis as the Pacers went in front early and stayed there for a 96-87 victory. The Pacers will get a chance to tie the series Friday night at home.
Wilkins, who scored 78 points in the first two games to almost single-handedly carry the Hawks, scored 22. When he rallied the Hawks in the second half, it was Person who kept the Pacers on top.
There was one 11-0 spurt by the Hawks that almost wiped out a 14-point lead in the third quarter. Person scored two quick baskets to halt that run.
In the fourth quarter the Hawks moved to within five and Person and Clint Richardson each scored four points in a 10-2 drive that clinched the Pacers’ first playoff victory ever. In 1976, the only other time they qualified, the Pacers were swept, 2-0.
“We’ll have to come back and play better Friday night,” Hawk Coach Mike Fratello said.
Detroit 97, Washington 96--The Pistons joined Boston in a three-game sweep of their first round series.
After two easy victories at the Silverdome, the one at Landover, Md. was a tough one. With the score tied and four seconds left, Rick Mahorn missed the first of two free-throw attempts. But he made the second and when John Williams’ inbounds pass bounced off the fingers of Moses Malone, the Pistons had their sweep.
Just as Mahorn’s second toss went in, Isiah Thomas and the Bullets’ Frank Johnson started fighting and both were ejected.
“I worked hard on my free throws all summer so this felt good,” Mahorn said. “When I missed the first, I just concentrated on the second.”
Mahorn, a bulky (6-10, 240) forward, never shot better than .683 from the line until this season when he shot .829.
The Bullets led most of the way, but Vinnie Johnson came off the bench to score 10 points in the fourth quarter to make it an even game and give Mahorn a chance to win it.
Coach Kevin Loughery was upset by just one thing. “When Charley Jones fouled Mahorn, he was shooting a left-handed fadeaway jumper,” Loughery said. “Mahorn is right-handed.”
Milwaukee 121, Philadelphia 120--The main reason the Bucks wanted Jack Sikma was for his rebounding ability. The 6-11 center, obtained from Seattle before the season started, made his biggest rebound in this game at Philadelphia.
It was a rebound of his own missed shot with two seconds remaining and he put it back into the basket to give the Bucks a 2-1 lead in the hard-fought series with the 76ers.
Roy Hinson blocked Sikma’s first shot, but when the rebound came back to him, Sikma had an easy six-footer.
With Charles Barkley playing a tremendous game, the 76ers seemed about to take the series lead. With 2:36 left, they led, 117-109, only to lose. Barkley had 39 points and 9 rebounds.
Terry Cummings scored five of the points in a 10-0 spurt that gave the Pistons a 119-117 lead. Barkley tied the score, then made one of two free throws, to put Philadelphia ahead, 120-119, with 22 seconds left. The Pistons plan was to have Sikma win it and he did.
Golden State 110, Utah 95--Terry Teagle scored 30 points and Larry Smith pulled down 17 rebounds at Oakland and the Warriors avoided a sweep.
The Warriors led most of the game, but early in the fourth quarter, the Jazz got within 10 only to have Purvis Short and Teagle lead a furious rally that put the Warriors back in command.
The game was a physical contest, but there were no fights.
The Warriors can tie the best-of-five series with another victory Friday night at Oakland.