Phil Chenier scored 32 points to lead the Washington Bullets to a 113-107 victory over the Portland Trail blazers last night at the Capital cented.
The Bullets led by as many as 24 points in the first half, but had only a one-point lead with less than three minutes to play. They went on from there, however, to score five straight points and seal the victory the eighth in their last 10 games. Portland had won five in a row.
Elvin Hayes scored 23 points and Larry Wright 21.
Bill Walton was high for Portland with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Maurice Lucas added 17 points.
The Trail Blazers were unable to run effectively, largely because their fastest guard. Lionel Hollins, was out of the lineup with a head injury.
The Bullets wasted little time taking advantage Phil Chenier abused everyone Portland put on him and scored 19 first-quarter points as the Bullets raced to a 42-29 lead. It was their most productive quarter of the season.
Herm Gilliam started on Chenier and after Chenier made short work of him, Portland coach Jack Ramsay called on 6-foot-5 Larry Steele. He fared no better. Finally Ramsay went to 6-7 Corky Calhoun.
Chenier was working free for his shots off picks by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes and even got hostile a couple of times when Steele tried to push him around. At one point, Chenier fouled Steele and then drew a technical foul for protesting the call too vigorously.
The Bullets steadily increased their lead and it grew as large as 24 (60-36) on a 15-footer by Bob Weiss.
There were a number of big plays for the Bullets in the first half. One was provided by Hayes. Left alone to defend a 2-on-1 Portland break, Hayes made an incredible block of Bob Gross' layup attempt and saved the ball. He whipped it upcourt and the Bullets got a fast-break basket of their own.
Portland, although not running well, hung tough. Reserve Lloyd Neal came in the scored 10 second-quarter points as the Bullets went into a momentary lull. The Trail blazers outscored Washington. 18-4, in the last five minutes of the half and cut the Bullets intermission lead to 10 points in that spurt.
Chenier finished the half with 21 ponts, making seven of 10 shots. The Bullets scored only 22 points in the second quarter. Maurice Lucas and Neal led Portland with 10 apiece.
Bill Walton shot little in the first half, making half of his eight shots.
With Hollis out, the Trial Blazers lacked a take-charge player and they often depended on Walton and Lucas to handle the ball, shoot and rebound.
Walton scored on a tap-in and then laid in a short lefthanded hook over Wes Unseld early in the third period to cut the Bullets' lead to 66-60.
The Bullets came back with jumper by Chenier and a three-point play by Elvin Hayes as he dunked over Walton and was fouled by the Portland center. That got the lead back to 11 with 8:15 left in the period.
Portland started another rush a minute later, Gilliam and Bob Gross scored on back-to-back layups and Dave Twardzik converted a three-point play to slice the lead to four.
Chenier missed a corner jumper and the Trail Blazers came back with a fast-break basket by Gilliam for their ninth straight, points and they were only two points down, 75-76.
Hayes made two free throws and after a double-dribble violation on Walton, Leonard Gray swished a 10-footer to give the Bullets a little breathing room at 79-73.
The Bullets hiked the lead back to 10 with 2:09 left in the period. Larry Wright, starting his second straight game, scored four straight and Chenier hit another of his baseline jump shoots.
The Bullets took a 92-82 lead into the final quarter. Hayes had 10 and Chenier and Wright eight each in the third period.