Amid rumors that a trade is imminent, the Atlanta Hawks seem slowly emerging from a midseason slump.
Dominique Wilkins appears to be taking it upon himself to see that it happens.
The high-scoring forward tallied 15 of his 43 points in a second-quarter spurt Tuesday night at Atlanta to lead the Hawks to a 131-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers had won seven in a row and surged into contention in the tough Central Division.
It was the second win in a row for the Hawks after an inglorious loss to the Lakers last Friday in a game in which the Hawks blew a 15-point lead with eight minutes left. The ninth defeat in the last 13 games had caused bickering, finger pointing and rumors of a trade.
The Pacers, who needed a victory to pull within three games of the division-leading Hawks, jumped in front early and led by four after a quarter.
But Wilkins and Antoine Carr put on a show in the second quarter. Carr came off the bench to score 13 points and the Hawks outscored the Pacers, 38-24, to take a 10-point lead. They built on the lead most of the rest of the way.
Wilkins' scoring has been the one constant during the Hawks' slump. In the last four games he has scored 167 points, 51 of them in a loss at home to Sacramento.
After the loss to the lowly Kings, Coach Mike Fratello accused his players of being selfish and out of shape. He pointed out that with eight forwards and centers and only four guards, the club was out of balance. The last two victories may forestall a trade.
"Maybe, we're snapping out of it," Fratello said. "In addition to Wilkins' fine game, Carr and Spud (Webb) came off the bench to play very well. We went out on a torrid pace in the first half and the defense did the job in the second."
Pacers' Coach Jack Ramsay said his team's inability to stop Wilkins or the Hawks' inside game was the key to the loss. He said the Pacers deserved to see the end of their winning streak.
"We couldn't have won any ot those seven games playing the way we did tonight," he said.
Portland 114, New Jersey 102--Shortly after trading away their all-time leading scorer, the Trail Blazers rode the shooting of Clyde Drexler to victory at East Rutherford, N.J.
Guard Jim Paxson, who passed the 10,00-point mark Sunday, was traded to the Boston Celtics for guard Jerry Sichting and future considerations. Sichting, out since Jan. 8 when he underwwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, was due in Portland today for an examination. If the knee is healed, he will be activated immediately.
Paxson, used sparingly this season, asked to be traded during the off season.
Drexler scored 21 of his 29 points in the first half to help Portland build a 61-48 lead. Then, when the Nets, who lost their fourth in a row, pulled within two points in the third quarter, Drexler put in a rebound to start a 12-0 run.
The Nets learned earlier that Orlando Woolridge, their No. 2 scorer, had a drug problem and had been suspended.
Chicago 104, Seattle 97--Michael Jordan thought he had won the game for the Bulls in regulation, but when Xavier McDaniel sank a 35-foot three-point shot with one second left in regulation, he had to win it again in overtime.
Jordan, who scored the Bulls last four points in regulation, scored six of the Bulls' last seven points in the extra session. His jumper broke a 97-97 tie and the Bulls were home free a couple of minutes later.
Jordan, on his way to his second consecutive scoring title, had 39 points and nine rebounds.
Dale Ellis led the SuperSonics with 34 points.
New York 89, Milwaukee 87--Gerald Wilkins is likely to always be known as Dominique's little brother, but on occasion, he has been a star in his own right.
Wilkins' three-point play with 44 seconds left at New York was the key play as the Knicks won their 10th in a row at home.
With the Knicks leading, 86-85, Wilkins scored on a 12-foot bank shot, was fouled and made the free throw. Ricky Pierce cut the lead to 89-87, but he missed a chance to tie in the closing seconds after picking up a loose ball. He tried for a layup, but with 7-0 Patrick Ewing looming over him, changed his shot and missed.
The last time the Knicks won 10 in a row at home, was in 1973 and they went on to win the league championship. Their 1-23 record on the road makes it unlikely this Knicks' team will do the same.
Detroit 121, Sacramento 105--Isiah Thomas had 26 points and 11 assists and the Pistons, shooting 60% (51-85), never trailed at Sacramento.
Dennis Rodman added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit, while John Salley scored 17 points and Vinnie Johnson 15 for the Pistons.
Mike McGee led Sacramento with 29 points, while Otis Thorpe scored 16 and Reggie Theus 14 for the Kings, who have lost four straight.