Hawks rip Bullets, clinch playoff berth 119-98 loss brings another bad record

April 22, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Atlanta Hawks, led by Dominique Wilkins' 30 points, clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth last night by overpowering the injury-riddled Washington Bullets, 119-98, before a crowd of 12,288.

The Bullets (22-58) achieved a dubious goal, clinching th third-worst record in the NBA and assuring themselves no worse than the sixth lottery pick in the June 30 draft.

It was a one-point game at halftime, but the Bullets, minus thre key starters, simply lacked the manpower to compete for 48 minutes.

With only three games remaining, Bullets coach Wes Unseld wa counting heads again, hoping to find enough healthy bodies to ** make up the eight-man minimum needed to start a game.

The latest casualty was team scoring-leader Harvey Grant, who has a sore right foot.

Washington was already missing center Pervis Ellison (knee), point guard Michael Adams (hand) and reserve center Charles Jones (knee), all sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Atlanta was missing backup center Blair Rassmussen, who ha been limited to 30 games this season because of back problems.

The Bullets got five quick points out of Mark Acres to gain a early 11-10 lead. They were intent on stopping Wilkins defensively, doubling the All-Star forward on almost every possession. That allowed Stacey Augmon to get two layups.

After the Hawks moved in front, 16-15, center Kevin Willis dre his second foul and was replaced by rookie Adam Keefe. Bullets guard LaBradford Smith drew some cheers with a spectacular )) block of a spin move by Wilkins.

Baltimore native Duane Ferrell came off the bench to join Mooki Blaylock in boosting the visitors lead to 30-23. After a jumper by Don MacLean, Wilkins scored five straight points and Atlanta led 35-26 after one quarter. Wilkins already had 13 points on the board.

Bullets reserves Rex Chapman and MacLean trimmed the defici to 37-31. Atlanta was having trouble disguising its "zone,"

drawing two technicals for illegal defense.

With Larry Stewart pounding the offensive boards, Washingto pulled into a 39-39 tie. The Hawks grew frustrated in missing layups and drawing offensive fouls. The Bullets used the free-throw line to reclaim the lead, 46-43.

Wilkins' slam dunk and Blaylock's three-pointer put the Hawk back on top, 48-46, but the Bullets answered with a 6-0 run. Then it was time for an Atlanta streak. Ferrell led the spurt to create another tie at 56. A blind tap-in by Ferrell gave the Hawks a 57-56 edge at halftime.

Consecutive hoops by Augmon and two three-pointers b Wilkins stretched the Hawks lead to 68-59 in the opening minutes of the second half.

The Bullets began turning the ball over and Atlanta used th scoring of Augmon and Blaylock to gain a 78-65 cushion. Then two Hawks not known for their scoring, Keefe and Jon Koncak, did just that with strong inside moves for 87-74, and the Bullets began hearing some catcalls.

Washington kept settling for long jump shots while Atlanta aggressively attacked the hoop. The margin grew to 15 points before Chapman closed the third quarter to leave the Hawks with a 92-79 lead. The Bullets made only 8-of-23 shots in third quarter while the Hawks convertted half of their 24 field-goal attempts.

A layup by Doug Overton made it 94-83 early in the last quarter but Graham's driving hook and 5 points by Ferrell ballooned the lead to 101-83 and the fans headed for the exits with over seven minutes remaining.

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