The scouting report on Atlanta says All-Star forward Dominique Wilkins likes to shoot, not pass. When Wilkins is sitting on the court, well, that's another story.
Wilkins' floor-level assist to Antoine Carr for a layup was one of several big plays that lifted the Hawks to a 114-103 win over the Jazz in the Omni Friday night.A remarkable pass? Mostly, the Jazz were amazed that Wilkins carried off the play without being called for traveling. Nine times out of 10 when a player falls with the ball, that's the call.
"A call's a call - what can you do?" noted the Jazz's Thurl Bailey.
The result was a tough loss, after the Jazz rallied again and again and came from 14 points down in the fourth quarter for a 98-98 tie.
After Carr's layup, Wilkins knocked away a John Stockton pass, leading to John Battle's jump shot for a five-point lead with 1:33 left. The Jazz still had a chance. Stockton hit a jumper and Karl Malone came up with a steal, only to miss an inside shot.
"That's my fault," said Malone. "We had opportunities to win the game."
Wilkins' four free throws ended any hopes of another Jazz comeback.
So the Jazz left Atlanta wondering about a few plays down the stretch that could have changed things.
"That's the difference so much, in winning and losing," said Coach Jerry Sloan.
"A call here and there, a turnover, a bad shot - it's a thin line," noted Bailey.
Now 8-5 with four losses in the last five games, the Jazz play at Washington tonight. They'll have to recover from a war with the Hawks in what's become a great rivalry - even though they only play twice a year.
Battle led the Hawks with 27 points and, while Wilkins scored 12 of his 26 from the line and Moses Malone added 22. Bothered by foul trouble and defenders running at him every time he caught the ball, the Jazz's Malone managed 24. Stockton added 20 points but only seven assists, while rookie Blue Edwards scored 17 and showed why the Hawks wanted him in the draft.
The Hawks took a 55-48 halftime lead and withstood several Jazz comebacks. They scored 11 straight points near the end of the third quarter when Malone and Stockton were on the bench, taking an 83-74 lead into the final period.
Malone quickly went out with his fifth foul on a tough offensive call and the Jazz went down by 14 before resurfacing. With Edwards working hard inside, they battled back and tied the game on Malone's two free throws with 3:14 left.
Just like always, a Jazz-Hawks game would go right to the end.