Isiah Thomas has had time to work on his shooting touch lately and he is leading the Detroit Pistons’ late drive to overtake Cleveland in the Central Division.
Thomas made a three-point shot 14 seconds into the game at Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday night to start the Pistons on the way to their fifth consecutive victory, a 112-96 beating of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Thomas, who scored 27 points, triggered a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter with a three-point play.
The Pistons, 24-2 when they hold the opposition to fewer than 100 points, are 2 1/2 games behind the Cavaliers, who have led the division most of the season.
With the Cavaliers scheduled to play five more games on their trip West, the Pistons are hoping to gain ground in the next week.
“We have spent most of the last 10 days at home, and I have had a chance to work on my shot,” Thomas said after going 12 for 21. “I now have good mechanics and good rotation. Now is the time to work on things you can utilize in the playoffs.”
The tough Detroit defense held the SuperSonics to 39% shooting. Seattle, which trailed by 21 points at halftime, trailed by only 10 with 10 minutes left.
Thomas’ three-point play and the Pistons’ strong rebounding ended the threat.
Detroit outrebounded Seatlle, 55-43.
“We take pride in our defense,” forward Rick Mahorn said. “We worked on our trapping defense in practice yesterday. We also were ready to rebound, knowing that Seattle is the league’s best offensive rebounding team.”
The loss dropped the SuperSonics 4 1/2 games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
Utah 117, Houston 80--It was supposed to be a showdown between the leaders of the Midwest Division at Salt Lake City, but the Rockets forgot to bring their offense.
Akeem Olajuwon scored 22 points, but the Rockets, falling four games behind the Jazz, had their lowest point total of the season.
Meanwhile, Karl Malone scored 29 points, and John Stockton had 18 points and 17 assists to lead the Jazz to their third consecutive victory.
Washington 119, Atlanta 111--Bullet fans aren’t sure whether they want their team to reach the playoffs or qualify for the bonus selection in the draft. But they seem to be enjoying the club’s recent surge.
Bernard Kings scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half at Landover, Md., to lead the Bullets to their fifth victory in the last six games. The Bullets, who need an effective center, remained 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the battle for the final playoff spot in the East.
Jeff Malone scored 30 points for the Bullets.
Dominique Wilkins led the Hawks, who have three consecutive losses, with 38 points. They also lost guard Doc Rivers, when he suffered a concussion late in the second quarter.
Boston 104, Chicago 95--Michael Jordan, suffering from a groin injury, had his consecutive-game streak ended at 234, and the Celtics took advantage of his absence.
Reggie Lewis and Kevin McHale led the Celtics to a fast start in the game at Boston. They led by 21 points in the first quarter and built a 95-63 lead in the second half before the Bulls rallied to make it seem close.
Dallas 99, Portland 92--The closest battle left is the one for the seventh and eighth playoff spots in the West.
James Donaldson had 19 points and 16 rebounds at Dallas to lead the Mavericks into the seventh spot--and put the Trail Blazers in ninth.
The Mavericks are 31-27, Denver 32-28 and Portland 30-28.
Adrian Dantley of the Mavericks and Portland’s Jerome Kersey got into a fight with 4:09 left, after Dantley, while falling, grabbed Kersey’s leg. The Trail Blazers trailed, 85-77, at the time but scored the next seven points.
Then Derek Harper’s steal and layup climaxed a 6-0 Dallas run.
Denver 112, Charlotte 99--Alex English scored 31 points at Charlotte, N.C., to help the Nuggets hand the Hornets their fifth straight loss, the team’s longest slump of the season.
“It wasn’t easy out there,” English said after going 12 for 20 from the field.