Cliff Robinson said he was feeling good, so he just kept popping, and 38 points later, he and the Washington Bullets had a 111-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in front of 7,038 last night at Capital Centre.
Robinson made 16 of 27 field goal attempts and six of seven free throws. His season-high point total, Jeff Malone's 29 points and Manute Bol's 15 blocked shots helped the Bullets to their fourth victory in a row and sixth in seven games.
Bol's 15 blocks were an NBA season high and the second-highest total in league history. Elmore Smith had 17 for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1973.
When the 7-foot-7 rookie wasn't blocking shots, he was forcing the Hawks to alter their shots. Even Dominique Wilkins, an incredible leaper, who led the Hawks with 35 points, had to change his shot a few times.
"I try to play hard every night," Bol said. "I'm not a scorer four points last night . It's my defense, and if I can make somebody change their shot, it's like scoring.
"Dominique is a very good jumper," Bol added. "Sometimes I tried to block his shot, and he moved his body around me. But we did a good job on him." Wilkins was 12 for 30 from the floor.
The Bullets are the only team besides the Boston Celtics to beat Atlanta in its last 13 games. And they did it without center Jeff Ruland, who -- after practicing Friday for the first time since he fractured his ankle Dec. 11 -- decided yesterday morning that he still had too much pain to play.
"It's still kind of sore," Ruland said after the game. "I have trouble moving side to side. I tried it in shoot-around today. I'm looking forward to practice Monday and Tuesday, and hopefully I can play Wednesday [at Indiana]."
Ruland has missed 22 games. But, he said, "The guys are playing so well, I don't have to rush it."
"That was a terrific game," said Bullets Coach Gene Shue. "Atlanta's been winning against everyone except Boston. We got great performances from quite a few people.
"Robinson was sensational. He got a lot of big points in the fourth quarter when we needed them."
Robinson, whose career high is 45, scored 23 in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter, which began with the Bullets trailing by 83-81.
"It was a good performance for me, but we did well as a team," Robinson said. "Jeff Malone was a little under the weather, and without Ruland, every now and then the other people have to pick up the slack. I was in the flow and I felt real good, and usually when a guy's hot, Gene goes to him."
Leon Wood and Dan Roundfield scored four points each to help the Bullets regain the lead at the start of the fourth period. Roundfield's basket with 8:20 left gave them a 91-87 lead.
The Hawks' John Battle, who attended McKinley Tech in the District, hit a free throw with 4:15 left to cut the lead to 94-91.
Robinson gave Washington a 100-95 lead, and, after a Wilkins miss, Robinson made two free throws for a 102-95 lead with 1:41 left.
Wilkins made two free throws to cut the Bullets' lead to five, 106-101, with 51 seconds left, but that was as close as the Hawks got.
Malone, who was sent home from Friday's practice because of cold and flu symptoms, felt bad enough that he almost didn't come to the game last night.
"Malone really wanted to stay home," Shue said. "But I called him, then begged him. So he said he would give it a try." Malone said he hoped he would get better after a few days off.
In the second half, Wilkins wasted no time in adding to the 21 points he scored in the first, which ended with the Bullets ahead, 59-57. The Hawks went right to him on their first possession, and his jumper from the corner tied the score at 59 as the Hawks hit their first eight in a row.
After Malone scored for the Bullets, Randy Wittman hit two in a row and Kevin Willis one for a 65-61 lead. Malone cut it to two, but Jon Koncak then hit three in row for a 71-63 lead with 7:49 to go in the period.
After Wilkins hit the Hawks' eighth shot in a row for a 73-65 lead, the Bullets came back. They tied it at 81 with 2:34 left on back-to-back baskets by Malone and Robinson. But Antoine Carr's drive with 1:03 left gave the Hawks an 83-81 lead at the end of the third quarter.