During a timeout early in the fourth period, the Atlanta Hawks' Dan Roundfield and Mike Glenn had a private conversation. The resulting strategy freed Glenn for 16 points that period, and the Hawks beat Milwaukee, 96-79, and gained the National Basketball Association playoffs. Their victory also ended the playoff chances of the Washington Bullets.
Their season finished at 43-39, the Hawks will find out Sunday their first-round opponent. If New York beats Chicago, the Hawks will finish sixth in the Eastern Conference and play Boston starting Tuesday. If the Knicks lose to the Bulls, Atlanta will finish fifth and play Wednesday at New Jersey.
But leading by only 71-67 going into the final period, the Hawks had convinced none of the 9,101 at the Omni that they were playoff bound. Then Glenn and Roundfield took over.
"During the timeout, Danny told me that if I would come off the screens he was going to set, I would be open," Glenn said. "That did it. The best Milwaukee could do was run into Danny and fall down."
Roundfield had nine assists to go with 18 rebounds, 14 points and two blocked shots.
"We kept running the motion play," Roundfield said. "That meant I had the ball, so I was sure I could get it to Mike. He took it from there. His jumpers were not even hitting the rim."
In 24 minutes tonight, Glenn, a 6-foot-3 reserve guard, scored 25 points. He made eight of 10 shots in the last quarter, scoring 12 of his team's first 14 points when the Hawks were opening an 85-73 lead. Roundfield sealed it with a three-point shot, one of Atlanta's six three-point plays, for an 88-73 lead.
The Hawks had outscored Milwaukee, 17-6, and Bucks Coach Don Nelson sent his substitutes into the game.
Atlanta made the playoffs by defeating division winners Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the final week despite a prior record of 1-8 against them. Glenn scored a then season-high 19 points against the 76ers Tuesday night and held Andrew Toney to three points in the final period.
The victim of a constantly changing guard situation during the season, Glenn waited until the final week to get the rhythm that finally showed the Hawks how to beat good teams. It was ironic that the Hawks had suffered all season because they lacked outside shooting, and then moved into the playoffs because of it.
Despite his slowness on defense, Glenn had insisted all year he needed more playing time.
"I feel I can keep the other team honest outside," he said. "We've got great inside players in Roundfield and Dominique Wilkins, and all they need is room to work. I can give it to them because if I am open, I am going to shoot.
"Fred Carter (assistant coach) told me before the game to keep shooting if my jumper didn't fall right away," Glenn said. "He told me, 'If you miss, don't worry, we'll both go live in the streets.' "
"We came prepared to go all out," said John Killilea, Milwaukee's assistant coach. Indeed, Marques Johnson went 38 minutes and exposed Wilkins' defensive deficiencies with 27 points.
The Bucks were hurt when Alton Lister quickly picked up three fouls. Replacement Dave Cowens suffered a leg injury that may damage Milwaukee's playoff hopes, although the Bucks have a first-round bye and a week for Cowens to heal.
Center Tree Rollins played 44 minutes for the Hawks and finished with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Rollins has a league-leading 343 blocks and the Hawks ended with 665, an NBA record.
"I feel the two games this week against Philadelphia and Milwaukee are the two best I ever played," Glenn said. "It felt good. I hope I can continue to be the clutch player that Atlanta needs."