Dominique Wilkins showed tonight why he is called things like the human highlight film and the second coming of Dr. J.
Wilkins dazzled the Washington Bullets and an Omni crowd of 5,149 with some gravity-defying moves on his way to 30 points as the Atlanta Hawks had little trouble defeating the Bullets, 105-88, for their first victory of the season after two defeats.
The Bullets, who play their home opener against the New Jersey Nets Wednesday night at Capital Centre, also are 1-2.
In addition to his high-wire act, the 6-foot-7 Wilkins showed his game isn't one dimensional as he made his last nine shots from the field and connected on five jump shots from beyond 15 feet.
"I thought he was fabulous tonight," said an admiring Bullets Coach Gene Shue. "He made some great plays, hit his outside shot and played defense. What else is there?"
The Utah Jazz made Wilkins the third player picked in the last draft, but traded him to the Hawks for John Drew, Freeman Williams and more than $1 million.
Wilkins has teamed with Dan Roundfield to give the Hawks one of the most devastating forward combinations in the National Basketball Association. Roundfield had 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists tonight.
Wilkins, a bowlegged, outgoing 22-year-old who grew up in Baltimore before going to the University of Georgia, averaged 22.5 points in his first two games, but said he wasn't as relaxed then as he was tonight.
"I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm getting there," he said. "I was a little tight before. Now I'm loose. I'm starting to feel more like myself."
Atlanta Coach Kevin Loughery said nothing Wilkins does offensively surprises him, but where he has been most impressive is defensively. "In his first three games, he's guarded Kelly Tripucka, Larry Bird and Greg Ballard, three of the best small forwards in the game and he's played them tough," said Loughery.
Ballard made only three of eight shots tonight and scored six points in 34 minutes.
Spencer Haywood was high for the Bullets with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Frank Johnson had 18 points, but committed seven turnovers. Jeff Ruland had 16.
The Hawks outscored the Bullets, 6-0, to break away from a 6-6 tie and never trailed after that. They led by as many as 17 points.
"Everytime we made a run, they had an answer," said Shue. "They had lost two in a row, so they were sharp. Our execution wasn't what I wanted, but that is due a lot to them. They had us scouted well."
But this night belonged to Wilkins. He had four mind-boggling plays. The first was a driving dunk from the left side of the basket on which he had his shoulders above the rim before ramming the ball through the basket with both hands.
Later, Roundfield lobbed a pass to Wilkins, but Wilkins mistimed his jump and was off balance and on the way down when the ball got to him. He was so high in the air, though, that he still managed to get one hand on the ball and dunk it before crashing to the floor.
In the fourth period, Ballard was in position to rebound a missed Wes Matthews shot, but suddenly Wilkins, who was five feet from the basket, leaped over Ballard and jammed the ball in with his left hand. All Ballard could do was look around in disbelief.
Wilkins capped off his night with a drive the length of the court, a behind-the-back dribble and one-handed scoop layup as he was fouled.
"When he gets going, he's unstoppable," said Matthews, a former Bullet. "You want to give him the ball, even if you have a shot yourself, because it's just so much fun to watch him."