Phil Chenier scored a season-high 38 points yesterday and no one enjoyed it more than teammate Elvin Hayes.
Chenier was deadly with his 18-foot jump shots as he led the Washington Bullets to a 118-110 victory over the hapless Phoenix Suns before 14,189 at Capital Centre.
Hayes, the man who has carried the Bullets much of the season, added 23 points, 16 rtbounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.
"Right now Phil is shooting from every angle. I hope he keeps going," Hayes said. "Guys are hanging all over him, but he still scores. That's good for me, because I can rest up as long as he is hot and I don't have to have the ball as much.
"Other teams have become so conscious of me that they are forgetting about the other guys, and Phil is killing them."
Chenier made 12 of 16 shots in Saturday night's easy victory over the New Orleans Jazz and made 11 of his first 14 shots yesterday.
Chenier's 24 points in the first half yesterday staked the Bullets to a 75-52 advantage. That is their most productive output in a half this season.
They bogged down at times in the second half when Hayes and Wes Unseld got into foul trouble.
Going into yesterday's game, the 6-foot-3 Chenier had been averaging 24.2 points for the previous 13 games.
"I'm just shooting real well," Chenier said. "I'm moving better, too. We're getting the shots where we want them. A lot of the teams are collapsing inside on E which means we have more room outside."
Chenier has been bothered by chronic back problems much of the season, but said his back is feeling fine now and that is a reason for his improved shooting.
"When my back isn't hurting I have more balance on my shot," Chenier said.
"When a guy is as hot as Phil has been, you have to keep getting him the ball," Hayes said. "I want to help him as much as I can on defense so he can save himself and rest a little more at the defensive end and not tire himself out."
The victory was the Bullets' 26th in their last 34 games. Philadelphia lost to the New York Knicks yesterday, so the Bullets now have the best record in the Eastern Confertnce.
The Suns, who got a career-high 32 points from guard Ricky Sobers and 27 from Alvan Adams, lost for the eighth straight time.
The Suns have injury problems and it showed yesterday. Starting forwards Curtis Perry and Gar Heard are both out for the season. Heard had a fractured leg and Perry a lower back injury.
They do most of the Suns' rebounding and muscle work and without them, Phoenix gets pushed around.
To combat that, coach John MacLeod started Dennis Awtrey at center and Adams, normally the center, at forward. It didn't help much.
Chenier scored 15 points in the first quarter, a total matched by Adams, but the Bullets had a 37-28 lead.
Mitch Kupchak scored 10 of his 18 points in the second quarter when the Bullets moved out to 25-point lead.
Bobers scored 11 of his points in the third quarter when the Suns outscored the Bullets, 30-18.
"We had to stay and play the whole game, but I didn't wnat to," said Bullet coach Dick Motta. "But for three games in 3 1/2 days I think we responded very well toward the end with the pressure on us."
The Bullets started the fourth period with rookies Kupchak. Larry Wright and Joe Pace, second-year player Kevin Grevey and Chenier.
Motta said he was giving the team today off but scheduled practice Tuesday before taking off for Milwaukee and the start of their last long road trip of the season, a four game 10-day affair.
The Bullets will play games at Golden State, Los Angeles and Kansas City.
A highlight of sorts yesterday was a Hayes play in which he was credited with six offensive rebounds and six missed shots.
He missed six attempted tap-ins until the SUns finally grabbed the ball.
"I just couldn't control it," Hayes said.