Phil Smith scored 28 points and Rick Barry 27 Thursday night but the weary twosome was held to a total of only eight in the final period as the Golden State Warriors blew a couple of big leads and bowed to the Cleveland Covaliers, 99-86.
"We have to be a better-balanced team," said coach Al Attles. "We can't just depend on Rick and Phil. They had to come out of there for a rest, and you have to have people come in and pick you up. We should be able to do that."
Campy Russell scored 30 points, including two quick baskets that put Cleveland ahead to stay. The Cavaliers, who charged back from a 13-point deficit in the second period to gain a 49-all halftime tie, dropped behind again by 12 points in the third period.
But Russell and Bongo Smith led the Covaliers back and the game turned into a see-saw battle. Russell's tip in tie it at 82 and his long jump shot seconds later put Cleveland ahead to stay with 3:38 remaining. Reserve guards Gary Brokaw and Foots Walker controlled things during the last five minutes as Cleveland outscored Golden State, 19-6, with Brokaw scoring nine of his 17 points and Walker all six of his during that stretch.
By winning, the Cavaliers moved past San Qntonio into third place in the Central Division, one game behind Houston and two percentage points ahead of the Spurs.
"What we proved tonight," said coach Bill Fitch, "is we're just gonna have to push people in and out, work combination go with it. Our first comeback we really had to get good comeback, they gave us some helpwith some turnovers. The second 'D,' jell and get it done."