Click here to Skip to main content
NBA HISTORY
bird-nique.jpg
Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins went at it in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1988.
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images

Bird and Wilkins provide shootout for the ages


Posted Mar 4 2013 4:46PM

The 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics came down to a seventh game at Boston Garden. And while basketball is a team game, this one came down to an old-fashioned shootout between Atlanta's Dominique Wilkins and Boston's Larry Bird.

"It was like two gunfighters waiting to blink," recalled Celtics forward Kevin McHale. "There was one stretch that was as pure a form of basketball as you're ever going to see."

The game was tied 86-86 with 10:26 to play when the teams' respective stars took over. "They each put their team on their back and said, 'Let's go,'" said Hawks coach Mike Fratello.

Bird fired the first shot, a jumper with 10:03 to play, and went on to score nine points in a span of 1:58. But Atlanta stayed close and drew even again at 99-99 on a basket by Wilkins with 5:57 left.

Bird scored 11 points after that, including the go-ahead basket with 3:34 to play and a stunning three-pointer over Wilkins with 1:43 left. Wilkins matched Bird's 11 points during that stretch, but it was not enough. With his team down by two points with one second left, Wilkins intentionally missed the second of two free throws, but Boston's Robert Parish tipped the rebound to teammate Dennis Johnson as the buzzer sounded and the Celtics had a 118-116 victory.

Wilkins ended up with a game-high 47 points, shooting a brilliant 19-for-23 from the floor. But it was the Celtics who were left standing at the end thanks to Bird, who finished with 34 points on 15-for-24 from the field, 20 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.

"He wanted it," said Don Chaney, an assistant coach with the Hawks at the time but a former teammate of Bird's. "He wanted the ball and he came through. That's what superstars are made of."

SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoSkills Challenge Recap
Karl-Anthony Towns defeats Isaiah Thomas to win the Taco Bell Skills challenge.
photoIntel Free D Replay: Three-Point Contest
Check out this Intel Free D replay of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry during their Three-Point Contest performances.
photoAll-Star Scene: Skills Locker Room
The skills competition participants enjoy a little trash talk before their event and Kyle Lowry pays a little homage to Kobe.
photoCurry Sets The Pace
Stephen Curry scores 23 points in the championship round of the Foot Locker 3-point contest, giving him the lead.
photoBooker Scores 16 In Final Round
Devin Booker goes off for 16 points in the championship round of the Foot Locker 3-point Contest.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.