Rolando Blackman, after leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 122-118 victory over the Detroit Pistons Saturday night, said he had to take over when Mark Aguirre was ejected late in the first half at Dallas.
"With Mark out, it's my job to score that much more," said Blackman, whose 26 points included two game-clinching free throws with eight seconds remaining.
"We can't afford to lose Mark. And he shouldn't have lost his temper. I guess he was frustrated. But the important thing is we rallied around each other and won the game."
With 34 seconds left in the first half, Aguirre, who scored only 11 points, complained to official Jack Nies that he wasn't calling fouls. He received his first technical, and when he kept complaining, Nies gave him his second, which carries an automatic ejection.
Nies had to work nearly the entire game by himself after fellow official Bill Saar suffered a hyper-extended knee when he attempted to break up a scuffle between Dallas' James Donaldson and Detroit's Bill Laimbeer with 11:05 left in the opening period.
"I don't want to be kicked out of any game," Aguirre said. "I just thought I got hit on a couple of my shots. I just wanted to talk to the ref. I know Coach (Dick) Motta was upset, and I know I will apologize to him. The great thing is that we won the game without me on the floor."
Motta said Aguirre used poor judgment.
"He is paid to play, and I could not believe the way he acted tonight," Motta said. "It was very immature on his part. I question the judgment of his actions. But the rest of the team pulled together, which was another step in the right direction."
Motta said he would decide today whether to take disciplinary action against Aguirre.
Atlanta 97, New York 85--Dominique Wilkins took advantage of a three-inch height advantage over New York's Trent Tucker and scored 27 of his 36 points in the second half to lead the Hawks past the Knicks at New York.
"It was the game plan," the 6-8 Wilkins said of his second-half spurt against Tucker, a guard forced to play forward because of injuries. "I like to have smaller guys on me so I can post up and turn around on them."
Wilkins, averaging 33.7 points in his last nine games, scored the first 12 Atlanta points as the Hawks outscored New York, 14-2, in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, extending a 70-69 lead to 84-71 with 6:02 left.
Denver 117, Washington 107--Alex English scored 37 points and Lafayette Lever recorded an NBA-leading 15th triple-double to rally the Nuggets at Landover, Md.
Washington trailed, 47-32, in the second quarter and 64-51 at halftime, and took its only lead of the game, 93-92, on a three-point play by Jeff Malone. English and Darrell Walker scored six points apiece in a 19-6 Denver rally over the next seven minutes to power the Nuggets to a 111-99 lead with 1:49 remaining.
Lever scored 25 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 11 assists. English, the NBA's second-leading scorer with a 29-point average, scored 18 points in the first quarter.
Philadelphia 105, Milwaukee 102--Charles Barkley scored 32 points and Roy Hinson added 27, including 13 in the fourth quarter, to lead the 76ers to a come-from-behind victory at Milwaukee.
The 76ers went on an 8-0 run with Hinson scoring six points as they took a 100-96 lead with 3:08 left in the game.
Terry Cummings led the Bucks with 28 points.
Utah 125, Houston 108--Karl Malone scored 35 points and the Jazz used a 37-point third quarter to rout the Rockets at Salt Lake City.
Rickey Green added 20 points and Darrell Griffith had 19 for Utah, which led, 63-52, at halftime.
Akeem Olajuwon had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Houston but made just 4 of 10 free throws.
Indiana 77, Cleveland 76--Chuck Person scored Indiana's first nine points of the fourth quarter as the Pacers held on to win at Indianapolis.
At 153 points, it was the lowest-scoring game in the NBA this season, but far above the record. On Feb. 27, 1955, Boston defeated Milwaukee, 62-57, the two lowest scores in the NBA since the 24-second clock was introduced into the league.
Chicago 112, Sacramento 97--Michael Jordan scored 17 of his 40 points in the final quarter for the Bulls at Sacramento.
Jordan sparked a 20-6 Chicago run with 10 points in a five-minute stretch ending with four minutes left. The run allowed the Bulls to break away from the Kings, who pulled to within 85-84 with 9:52 left.
John Paxson added 19 points as the Bulls improved to 34-33. Paxson scored 14 straight Chicago points--including three consecutive three-point baskets--in the first five minutes of the third period.
Sacramento's Eddie Johnson had 29 points.
Golden State 105, Phoenix 102--Chris Mullin scored 28 points and Joe Barry Carroll had 8 of his 22 points in the fourth period at Phoenix as the Warriors handed the Suns their seventh straight defeat.