There is no respite for Kevin Grevey.
After chasing the likes of David Thompson, Rick Barry, Adrian Dantley and Cazzie Russell, Grevey must now deal with Billy Knight.
Knight, who is a better scorer right now than any of theabove, will lead the Indiana Pacers into Capital Centrefor an 8:05 p.m. game tonight against the Wasington Bullets.
Nicknamed "Smooth," Knight is the National Basketball Association's third-leading scorere with a 26.9 average. Over the last 22 games, he has averaged 31.8 points.
At 6-foot-6 1/2, Knight can score against most small forwards inside or with his picture-perfect jumper from far out.
"I've never seen Billy Knight have a bad game," said Bullet coach Dick Motta. "He's not the third-leading scorer by accident."
Knight was playing guard until two weeks ago when the Pacers acquired John Williamson from the New York Nets.
That enabled coach Bob Leonard to shift Knight to forward, the position he played his first two years in the American Basketball Association. His 28.1 average a year ago was second to Julius Erving.
A forward, Knight is closer to the basket, enabling the Pacers to utilize his rebounding skills. He has averaged 10.5 rebounds the last 12 games. It also makes room for the muscular Williamson and his 20.4 scoring average in the lineup.
With that one-two scoring punch and with Don Buse, the NBA leader in both assists and steals, directing the show, the Pacers, tabbed as potentially the NBA's worst team before the season, can now play with anybody.
The thought offacing another scorer like Knight doesn't faze Grevey. He expects to be guarding players like that every night.
Grevey became the starter at small forward 16 games ago when the Bullets traded Leonard Robinson to Atlanta for Tom Henderson. Grevey has had several good scoring nights, but it is his defense that has been impressive.
"He's good at keeping the ball away from people like Knight," said Motta.
"He had those two games against Barry, which may have hurt his confidence, but he's bounced back."
The two games were confrontations with the Golden State Warriors in which Barry scored 18 and 21 points, respectively, in the first period of each game.
That is all behind the 6-5 Grevey now. "You've just got to take it as a challenge," he said of his defensive assignments. "I feel I can contain list about anybody if I put my mind to."
"You know you aren't going to stop a guy like Billy Knight, but you don't want to let him go crazy. I know that we need more defense from the tomorrow (Wednesday) night than we do offense."
Grevey concedes that Knight is going to get his points every night, but the key is to make him take more shots than he normally does to get them. You want to make him get the ball as far away from the basket as possible and make him work for everything."
The way that is usually done is by overplaying, or fronting the man on defense. If he gets the ball behind the defender, Wes Unseld or Elvin Hayes can help, and that's what Grevey is counting on.
The soft-spoken Knight is almost embarrassed by the raves about him. "It bothers me," he said. "A lot of times when I hear or read about being a star it seems like a putdown on the other guys. I just try to play basketball as well as I can."
Motta sent the Bullets through a two-hour practice yesterday and said it was the first time sice Feb. 1 they have been able to have a full-scale workout.
They may be one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 20 of their last 27, but when some of the players were dragging early in practice, Motta yelled, "No matter how you cut it, we've still lost two out of three."
That settled everyone down and they went on to have what he called a good practice.
Haye's hamstring tightened so he didn't take part in the scrimmage portion of practice. Everyone else ran full speed.
Tonight's game is the first of three home contests this week for the Bullets. They will play Milwaukee Saturday night and Buffalo Sunday afternoon.