John Long, just out of the doghouse, and Herb Williams, recently off the injured list, led the Indiana Pacers to a wild 119-115, two-overtime victory over Dallas Saturday at Indianapolis.
Long, in his first start since Dec. 21, scored 29 points and helped contain Rolando Blackman, while Williams scored six points in the second overtime and led all rebounders with 14.
The Mavericks, leading the Midwest Division by 2 1/2 games, kept prolonging the agony. Blackman, held scoreless in the first half, scored on a three-point play with five seconds left in regulation to sent it into the first overtime. Sam Perkins hit a jumper with 20 seconds left in the first overtime to send it into the second.
The way the Pacers have turned it around qualifies Coach Jack Ramsay as a candidate for coaching honors. The Pacers, 10-27 after 37 games last season, are 19-18 and very much in the playoff picture.
"For us to beat a team like Dallas is a great accomplishment," Ramsay told UPI. "We hung in there. We need Long in there, but he has to defend well to play long."
Coach Dick Motta of the Mavericks, is unhappy with his team despite a 24-14 record.
"We're slow as a snail. There are going to be some changes made," he said. "I don't think they realize they are a division leader. I'm going to start using the subs more. I'm tired of this."
Williams missed six games with a rib injury and is just regaining his strength.
Chicago 105, Philadelphia 89--When Michael Jordan is soaring and scoring, the Bulls are a tough team to beat. Jordan scored 14 of his 47 points in the fourth quarter at Chicago as the Bulls charged from behind to win for the fifth time in their last six games.
The 76ers held a 79-74 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Jordan scored six points in an 8-1 Chicago spurt.
After tying the score at 82-82, the 76ers then made only one more field goal in more than eight minutes and it quickly became a rout.
Jordan had 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and a blocked shot. It was the 19th time he has scored 40 or more.
Charles Oakley gave Jordan the help he needed, scoring 16 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.
San Antonio 102, Utah 91--Alvin Robertson scored 27 points and Artis Gilmore tied the NBA season high with 25 rebounds at San Antonio as the Spurs handed the fading Jazz their fourth loss in a row.
The win, only the 10th in 38 games, ended the Spurs' three-game losing streak.
Gilmore, who also scored 12 points, was only two rebounds short of his career-high and helped give the Spurs a rebound margin of 77-48.
Cleveland 116, New York 110--When rookie Ron Harper gets hot, the Cavaliers are tough to beat. The Knicks held the sharpshooting guard to five points and led, 50-49, at halftime at Richfield, Ohio.
But Harper scored 24 points in the second half, 16 in the third quarter when the Cavaliers came from behind to zoom in front, 84-72.
Bill Cartwright had a season-high 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Knicks, who left guard Gerald Wilkins home because of the flu.
Detroit 123, New Jersey 113--Isiah Thomas had 28 points and Bill Laimbeer had 21 points and 11 rebounds at East Rutherford, N.J., and the Pistons won for sixth time in the last seven games.
The Pistons, who have won 21 of their last 26, were beaten at home by Houston Friday night.
"We have a goal not to lose two in a row," said Laimbeer, who was 9 for 13 from the field.
The Pistons trailed by 15 points in the second quarter, pulled to within four at halftime and outscored the Nets, 35-23, in the third quarter.
Sacramento 125, Seattle 115--Eddie Johnson scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter at Sacramento as the Kings rallied to overcome a 37-point performance by Xavier McDaniel of the SuperSonics.