It was expected that Patrick Ewing would have trouble when he went up against the top centers in basketball, such as Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
It was also expected that when Ewing went up against the lesser pivotmen, he would quickly take charge.
Definitely, Atlanta centers Tree Rollins, Kevin Willis and rookie Jon Koncak are not among the elite big men.
The three at least held their own with Ewing Tuesday night at Atlanta, and the Hawks romped to a 102-87 victory over Ewing and the New York Knicks.
Ewing, forced to carry much of the load for the Knicks because of the absence of injured stars Bernard King and Bill Cartwright, had his second rough night as a pro.
The 7-0 former Georgetown star, played 37 minutes against the Hawks, sank only 6 of 15 shots, had 10 rebounds, scored 19 points and picked up 5 fouls.
The Hawks used their three centers in relays against Ewing and it worked. Among them they had 28 points and 21 rebounds. Rollins also had 4 blocks, 3 more than Ewing.
While the three men were keeping Ewing from taking charge, Dominique Wilkins celebrated his return to forward by scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. In the first two games, the 6-8 Wilkins was at guard, and the Hawks lost them both.
Wilkins, guarded much of the game by his younger brother, Gerald, didn't shoot all that well. He was only 8 for 24 from the field, but he got the Hawks off to a fast start, and the Knicks could never catch up.
The Knicks, who will be without King, the outstanding forward, at least until midseason, learned shortly before the game that Cartwright will be out a month or more because of a broken foot.
Washington 97, Cleveland 90--Manute Bol's second NBA game was a decided improvement over his first. In his debut last week the 7-7 center picked up three fouls in a hurry and did not score.
But in this game at Richfield, Ohio, Bol scored his first six points, blocked a shot and had two rebounds.
"I feel I can play in the NBA," Bol told the Associated Press. "I've made it right now. But I've still got a lot to learn."
The Cavaliers, who became competitive last season after starting out 2 for 21, are off to another slow start, having lost their first 3.
Denver 142, Phoenix 127--Alex English scored 12 of his 34 points in the third quarter at Phoenix to lead a devastating Denver spurt to its third win in a row.
The Nuggets, trailing by nine at halftime, outscored the Suns, 43-22, in the third quarter and won going away.
Larry Nance, who ended a holdout earlier in the day and missed the training season, led the Suns with 22 points.
Milwaukee 119, Philadelphia 117--Sidney Moncrief sank a 15-foot jumper with one second remaining at Milwaukee to give the Bucks the victory.
Just 16 seconds earlier, Julius Erving climaxed a late 76ers' rally with a 10-foot jumper. The 76ers trailed, 117-111, with 91 seconds remaining.
The Bucks jumped off to a 32-23 lead, but Sedale Threatt, the 76ers' No. 4 guard, came off the bench to score 24 points and allow the 76ers to make a game of it.
Houston 111, Seattle 99--Ralph Sampson, bothered by a sore back, played only 28 minutes at Houston, but they were productive.
He scored 24 points, 15 of them in the third quarter when the Rockets broke open a close game and built a 91-62 lead.
San Antonio 124, Utah 112--David Greenwood and Alvin Robertson went a long way toward making Spurs' fans forget their beloved George Gervin in this game at San Antonio.
Greenwood, traded for Gervin last week, came off the bench to grab 20 rebounds in 32 minutes and also scored 16 points. Robertson, taking Gervin's place at guard, had 23 points and 8 assists.
Detroit 124, New Jersey 107--Kelly Tripucka scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half at Pontiac, Mich., to help the Pistons pull away to an easy victory.
Bill Laimbeer had 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Pistons improved their record to 2-1.
Chicago 111, Golden State 105--Sleepy Floyd's third three-point basket of the game enabled the Warriors to tie the score at 105-105 with 56 seconds left at Oakland, but the Bulls scored the last six points.
A tip-in by Jawann Oldham broke the tie and sent the Warriors down to their third defeat without a victory.
The Bulls won although Michael Jordan sprained his ankle and left late in the second quarter.