A sellout crowd of 16,007 at the Reunion Arena in Dallas saw the Mavericks clinch a spot in the National Basketball Assn. playoffs for the fourth consecutive year with a 114-96 victory Tuesday night over the Chicago Bulls.
Mark Aguirre scored 31 points and Sam Perkins added 27 to carry the Mavericks. Perkins did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 points. He also had 15 rebounds.
"It feels good to clinch the playoffs this early," Dallas Coach Dick Motta said. "But we can't relax. We still haven't clinched the (Midwest) division."
The Bulls, who lost their sixth straight, were led by Charles Oakley with 23 points. Michael Jordan added 21, well below his league-leading average of 36.9. It was only the third time this season that Jordan was not the Bulls' leading scorer.
Oakley had a game-high 16 rebounds. Rolando Blackman, who guarded Jordan, added 15 points for the Mavericks, and Derek Harper had 17.
"I thought Ro (Blackman) did an excellent job on Jordan," Motta said. "He's such a great player. We double-teamed him a lot and he still hurt us."
Milwaukee 123, Boston 115--Jack Sikma has learned what's expected of him as playoff time approaches in his first season with the Bucks.
"It's my responsibility to give the team a big lift," the 6-foot 11-inch center said after grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring 8 fourth-quarter points in the Bucks' victory at Milwaukee.
"I was well-rested when I came in in the fourth quarter. I felt real good physically. And every time you play a team like the Celtics you get pumped up."
Sikma not only grabbed 5 fourth-quarter rebounds but had 5 steals and 5 assists in the game and finished with 14 points. John Lucas led the Bucks with 26 points, 16 in the second half, including two key fourth-quarter baskets.
"They were getting two shots for every one of their efforts," Boston Coach K.C. Jones said. "Sikma took control of the boards, and Lucas pushed the ball up and made things happen. He gives them a Magic (Johnson), an Isiah (Thomas), a Maurice Cheeks."
The Celtics are 2-3 against the Bucks this season and the teams meet again tonight in Boston. The Celtics have lost four straight road games and are 18-16 away from home.
Kevin McHale led the Celtics with 31 points, Larry Bird added 24 and Danny Ainge 16.
Atlanta 118, Washington 98--Dominique Wilkins, whose 43 points paced the streaking Hawks to their 11th straight win, said the Hawks are less interested in streaks than in catching the Detroit Pistons, who lead the NBA's Central Division by one-half game over Atlanta.
The Hawks are one victory short of tying the franchise's longest winning string set from Dec. 8, 1968-Jan. 3, 1969. Hawk Coach Mike Fratello, however, was quick to point out that Detroit has been almost as hot as Atlanta, winning seven straight.
"We have won 11 straight and are still trailing them," he said.
John Williams came off the bench and led Washington with 17 points, while Darwin Cook and Jeff Malone added 16 apiece.
Denver 133, New York 111--Bill Hanzlik scored 19 of his 22 points and Alex English 18 of his 26 in the middle two quarters as the Nuggets outscored the Knicks, 70-51, en route to the win at New York.
Trent Tucker scored a career-high 31 points for the Knicks, four more than his previous best, and Kenny Walker added 21. Patrick Ewing was held to 11 points, half his average, leading several disgruntled fans to toss a life-size poster of the 7-foot center onto the court in the second half. The Knicks billed the game as Patrick Ewing Poster Night in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
Cleveland 110, New Jersey 91--Rookie guard Ron Harper scored 32 points, including 14 in the third quarter, as the Cavaliers snapped a six-game road losing streak with the win at East Rutherford, N.J.
The 20-plus point performance by Harper was his 11th straight and marked the 11th time this season the former Miami of Ohio star has scored 30 points or more. Brad Daugherty added 15 points for the Cavaliers, and Buck Williams topped New Jersey with 20.
Utah 118, Golden State 103--Darrell Griffith scored 26 points and Rickey Green scored 22 points and had 13 assists to lead the Jazz over the Warriors at Salt Lake City.
Griffith, who scored 22 points in the second half when the Jazz pulled away, made three three-point goals. Center Mark Eaton just missed a triple-double, finishing with 9 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.
The Warriors hit only 43 of 110 shots, 39%. Chris Mullin led Golden State with 24 points. Joe Barry Carroll and Terry Teagle each added 16, and Larry Smith contributed 12 points and 17 rebounds.
San Antonio 108, Sacramento 106--Reserve guard Johnny Moore made two free throws with two seconds left as the Spurs rallied from a 16-point deficit in the final 9 1/2 minutes to win at Sacramento.
Guard Alvin Robertson scored 30 points and forward Walter Berry 28 as the Spurs snapped a seven-game road losing streak.
The Kings led, 94-78, with 9:21 remaining. But Berry scored 12 points in the next nine minutes, including an eight-foot jumper with 47 seconds left that put San Antonio ahead 106-104.
Sacramento forward Otis Thorpe tied the score at 106 on a rebound with 26 seconds remaining. However, Moore was fouled by guard Reggie Theus to set up the winning free throws. Theus then had a shot at the buzzer bounce off the rim.
Thorpe led Sacramento with 27 points, and center LaSalle Thompson had 20.