The absence of scoring champion Dominique Wilkins hasn't slowed the fast start of the Atlanta Hawks.
With former Laker Mike McGee coming off the bench in the third quarter to lead the way, the Hawks trounced Phoenix, 106-86, Friday night at Atlanta.
It was the fourth win in a row for the Hawks, the only unbeaten team in the NBA, and the last two have come without the 6-7 Wilkins.
The Hawks built a 10-point halftime lead, then inserted the sharpshooting McGee into the lineup at the start of the second half. McGee opened and closed the third period with a three-pointer. In between, he scored nine more points, and Atlanta's lead soared to 80-64.
Seven-foot Kevin Willis, whose rapid improvement last season was one reason Atlanta became a serious contender, continued to prove that it was no fluke.
Willis matched McGee with 22 points and also led all rebounders with 19. Cliff Levingston, Wilkins' replacement, scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes.
Wilkins, who averaged 30.3 points a game last season, had scored 75 points in the first two Atlanta victories. But in the first period of Tuesday night's win over Milwaukee, Wilkins sprained his ankle. He is not expected to play tonight when the Hawks play Washington at Atlanta.
"My scoring will usually come in spurts," McGee told the Associated Press. "It's nice to get off to a good start because it does a lot for our confidence.
"Coach (Mike Fratello) gives me the green light to shoot three-pointers as long as I stay in the concept of the game."
Detroit 115, Chicago 109--The Bulls' Michael Jordan isn't the only player capable of rallying a team from behind.
Isiah Thomas can, too. With only 7:18 left at Pontiac, Mich., Thomas rallied the Pistons from a 94-87 deficit by scoring 10 of his team's last 28 points.
Thomas sank two free throws with 1:46 left to give Detroit the lead for good, 107-105. He followed that with a three-point play, and the Bulls lost their first game after three victories.
Jordan, who averaged 41.7 points in the first three games this season, finished with 33, but he made only 11 of 26 shots and did not have a rebound.
Boston 88, Washington 86--It wasn't a typical performance by the Celtics at Landover, Md., but they managed to grind out their third victory in four games.
Larry Bird, after a slow start, scored 32 points and played a strong game, but it was an 18-foot jumper by Dennis Johnson with 11 seconds left that broke an 86-86 tie.
Because the Celtics do not play again until next Friday, Coach K.C. Jones, playing without three injured players, was able to use his four aces--Bird, Johnson, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish--almost the entire game.
The Bullets (1-4) stayed with the Celtics all the way despite a poor performance by Moses Malone, who made only 4 of 17 shots.
Philadelphia 114, San Antonio 97--In pregame ceremonies, the 76ers retired Bobby Jones' No. 24, then went out and won their second game in a row without their injured big men, Jeff Ruland and Charles Barkley.
In the absence of Ruland and Barkley, a couple of Jones' old buddies, Maurice Cheeks and Julius Erving, took charge.
Cheeks had 17 points, 18 assists and 8 steals, while Erving scored 23 points.
Milwaukee 115, New Jersey 94--Craig Hodges hit three consecutive three-pointers in a 67-second span of the third quarter at East Rutherford, N.J., to break open a close game and hand the Nets their fourth consecutive defeat after a win in the opener.
Cleveland 115, Golden State 114--Center Mark West scored on a dunk with four seconds remaining at Oakland to win for the Cavaliers. Joe Barry Carroll missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer that would have given the Warriors their fourth victory in a row.
The Warriors led, 76-61, early in the third quarter, but rookie Ron Harper scored 18 points, and the Cavaliers got back into the game before the period ended.
Portland 120, Dallas 113--Kiki Vandeweghe scored 36 points at Portland to pace the Trail Blazers to an overtime victory, their first win in five tries for new Coach Mike Schuler.
It was costly, however. Late in the game, Portland center Sam Bowie fell hard after a jump shot and suffered a possible broken leg.