Dominique Wilkins finally put on one of his famous shows, but the Atlanta Hawks still couldn't beat the Boston Celtics.
With Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge each scoring five points in the last 3 1/2 minutes, the Celtics overcame a 38-point performance by Wilkins and scored a 111-107 victory Friday night at Atlanta.
The Celtics, who hold a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, have beaten the Hawks 10 times in a row and have won the last 13 played in Atlanta.
In the first two games of the series, the long-armed McHale and his friends kept Wilkins, the scoring champion with a 30.3 average, under control. He scored 13 and 19 points respectively.
Wilkins, who has not had much playoff experience, threw up some wild ones in those first two games and was often out of control, making only 11 of 37 shots.
Before the home fans, though, it was a different Wilkins. He hit from outside and he swooped in for close shots.
In the stretch, Wilkins was carrying the Hawk attack, while Larry Bird, McHale and Ainge would answer his every basket. Ainge was booed every time he touched the ball because of his numerous altercations with Hawk players. He obviously wasn't bothered, making 10 of 15 shots as the best marksman on the court.
"I don't envy their position," Bird, who had 28 points and 12 assists, told the Associated Press. "There may be some team in the league that can beat us four straight, but I've yet to see one."
Ainge has been booed by Atlanta fans ever since his run-in with Tree Rollins two years ago. "There is nothing more fun than silencing the fans," Ainge said. "I'd bring them out of their seats and then I'd put them back in their seats."
Denver 116, Houston 115--The Rockets missed taking a 3-0 lead in this series when Robert Reid's jumper at the final buzzer fell short at Denver.
Alex English ended a scoring slump with 33 points to help the Nuggets steadily build a lead to 114-104 with just three minutes to play.
Rookie Steve Harris came off the bench to lead the Rockets to a 9-0 burst that cut the lead to 114-113 with 42 seconds left. Elston Turner made two free throws for the Nuggets, but Harris countered with a rebound basket with 28 seconds left. A turnover gave the Rockets the ball and a chance to win with 14 seconds left.
Reid, going up against Bill Hanzlik, Denver's best defender, forced his shot and it fell short.
Hanzlik, who missed several playoff games with a back injury, came off the bench to score 21 points.