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NBA Roundup : Pistons Win 10th in a Row, Grounding Hawks

March 01, 1986|DAN HAFNER

It has been one kind of streak or another all season for the Detroit Pistons.

At the moment, it is a winning streak and the Pistons are sizzling.

Isiah Thomas, who was so upset during an early season losing streak that he talked about quitting, led the Pistons to a club-record 10th victory in a row Friday night at Pontiac, Mich.

Thomas scored 30 points and helped put the clamps on Atlanta's little man, 5-7 Spud Webb, and the Pistons cooled off the Hawks, 115-103.

The Pistons, with Thomas leading two third-quarter surges that broke open the game, finished with a 13-1 record in February and have regained second place in the Central Division from the Hawks.

The Pistons opened the season by winning 11 of 16 and began talking about unseating perennial division winner Milwaukee. Just about that time the Pistons went into a terrible skid. They won only four of the next 23 games and Thomas became depressed.

Coach Chuck Daly kept experimenting with lineup changes until he hit on one that clicked. The major changes were the insertion of Kent Benson as power forward and rookie Joe Dumars at shooting guard.

With center Bill Laimbeer, Thomas and Kelly Tripucka as fixtures, this combination had a merry month of February.

The Hawks, with Webb and high-scoring Dominique Wilkins leading the way, had won four in a row. Wilkins scored 21 of his 35 points in the first quarter and the Hawks led, 42-37.

But Thomas, 6-1, took Webb inside, Laimbeer took charge of the boards and the Pistons dominated the rest of the way. It didn't help the Hawks' cause, either, when Wilkins banged his knee and spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.

"This was a big victory," Daly said, "but the party's over. We'll find out Sunday at Boston just how far we have come back this month."

Webb, who had scored 45 points and had 28 rebounds in his two previous games, picked up five fouls in just 10 minutes trying to guard Thomas. He scored only four points and had four assists. Thomas was 16 for 16 from the free throw line.

Milwaukee 102, Washington 84--The Pistons aren't closing any ground on Central Division leader Milwaukee. In this home game, Sidney Moncrief scored 21 points and Ricky Pierce came off the bench to score 19 as the Bucks won their 10th in a row to maintain a 6 1/2-game lead.

The Bullets led, 77-75, before Pierce scored six points and Moncrief four in a 13-2 rally in the fourth quarter that put Milwaukee in front to stay.

It was tied, 67-67, after three quarters. Moncrief, who missed Tuesday's game with the Clippers because of the flu, scored 11 points in the last quarter.

Philadelphia 123, Dallas 120--Charles Barkley had another big game, but it took a desperate half-court heave by Julius Erving at the buzzer for the 76ers to win at Dallas.

After Mark Aguirre missed a long shot, the 76ers took time out with two seconds left and the score tied, 120-120. The ball was tossed in to Erving and he fired the ball through the hoop.

"I've practiced that shot," Erving said, "but it's the first time I've done it in a game.

"I knew it would be close and as it soared, I got a genuine feeling of excitement. The next thing I knew I was being mobbed by teammates."

Barkley, making 16 of 19 shots, had 35 points and 13 rebounds.

New Jersey 113, San Antonio 110--Otis Birdsong had eight of his 28 points in the fourth quarter at East Rutherford, N.J., as the Nets came from behind and ended a three-game losing streak.

The Nets led by 14 in the second quarter, but trailed, 93-89, early in the final quarter. Birdsong and Buck Williams led the final charge. Williams finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Chicago 116, Cleveland 96--George Gervin scored 20 of his 26 in the second half at Chicago to lead the Bulls to the victory.

The Bulls built their biggest lead, 86-59, in the third quarter before coasting home.

Sacramento 121, Indiana 100--Reggie Theus had 27 points and 15 rebounds at Sacramento to lead the surging Kings to their sixth consecutive victory.

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