It was anticipated that with the departure of Dick Motta as coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Aguirre would become a more relaxed player.
The sharpshooting forward spent much of his six previous seasons in the National Basketball Assn. in Motta's doghouse. He usually led the Mavericks in scoring, but never quite came up to Motta's expectations.
New Coach John MacLeod seems to be a calming influence on Aguirre, and the husky 6-6 forward is playing better than ever. After a so-so start, the Mavericks again appear to be the class of the Midwest Division.
In a showdown with division leader Denver Saturday night at Dallas, Aguirre led the Mavericks to a powerful second-quarter charge that enabled them to breeze to a 109-96 victory over the Nuggets. The win moved Dallas within a half-game of the Nuggets.
Aguirre scored 17 of his 35 points in the second quarter and was the key to Dallas scoring a club-record 20 consecutive points.
They outscored Denver 36-15 in the quarter and, by the middle of the third quarter, had a 24-point lead. Denver narrowed the margin to seven points in the fourth quarter, but Aguirre came back in and quickly put the game away.
It was a night for club records. The 38 rebounds in the first half were the most ever for the Mavericks. Aguirre, who led the Mavericks with 11 rebounds, had 7 in the first half.
San Antonio 110, Chicago 101--A sellout crowd of 15,786 honored George Gervin in pregame ceremonies in which the No. 44 jersey of the four-time scoring champion was retired at San Antonio.
Although it was present scoring champion Michael Jordan, who emulated the sharpshooter known as the Iceman, it was the young, hustling Spurs who won the game.
Jordan, 15 for 22 from the field, had 40 points and 8 assists, but the Spurs used a balanced attack to hand the Bulls their second loss in a row and third road defeat in 12 games.
Portland 133, Phoenix 115--Clyde Drexler scored 34 points at Phoenix before fouling out with 4:23 left and led the Trail Blazers to their eighth win in a row.
The victory over the Suns put the Trail Blazers into a tie with the Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Trail Blazers, although their best shooter, Kiki Vandeweghe, was out with a back problem, shot 68.2%. The Suns were missing Walter Davis, who also has back trouble.
Seattle 115, Washington 99--With the score tied, 85-85, and almost nine minutes remaining at Landover, Md., it figured the SuperSonics would be the team to fold. After all, they were playing their sixth road game in eight nights.
But, it was the Bullets, who turned cold and, with Xavier McDaniel scoring 10 of his 26 points down the stretch, the Sonics outscored the Bullets, 24-8.
In the fourth period the Bullets, who have lost seven of their last nine, were only 5 for 22 and were outscored, 39-17.
It was only the second game back for McDaniel, who had been out with a sprained ankle.
In an effort to shake up his team, Bullet Coach Kevin Loughery replaced Bernard King in the starting lineup with Terry Catledge. But Catledge scored only 9 points, and King, although only 8 for 19 from the field, scored 23 points.
Houston 121, Golden State 96--Purvis Short, who has had a difficult time switching from small forward to shooting guard for the Rockets, apparently was just waiting for his former team to arrive in Houston.
In his best game since being traded by the Warriors, Short was 13 for 15 from the field and scored 27 points to lead the Rockets' romp. He did the damage in three quarters.
Utah 126, Sacramento 117--Thurl Bailey came off the bench to score 25 points at Sacramento to lead the Jazz. The Jazz built a 23-point third quarter lead and held on despite Reggie Theus' 33 points.