In what Dick Motta called "kind of a fun game," the Washington Bullets finally beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 131-1211, and ended the National Basketball Association regular season with the same 48-34 record they had a year ago.
That mark gave Washington third place in the Eastern Conference and a date to play sixth-place Cleveland in a best-of-three first-round playoff series starting Wednesday at Capital Centre.
The Boston Celtics beat the Cavaliers yesterday, 115-105, to place fifth in the conference. Boston will play San Antonio Tuesday in the other Eastern Conference first-round series.
The 76ers will play the winner of the Boston-San Antonio series while the Central Division champion Houston Rockets will play the Washington-Cleveland winner.
The second game of the Washington-Cleveland series will be played Friday at Richfield, Ohio. If third game is necessary, it will be played Sunday at Capital Centre.
If the Bullets win that series in two games, they will begin the second-round series with the Rockets in Houston on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the NBA officials went through with with their strike threat and refused to work yesterday's games. Jake O'Donnell and Joe Gushue had been assigned to the Bullet game.
The NBA has been assigning standby officials to all games for the past week and was ready for the walkout. Eastern League officials Richie, Jackson and Joe Crawford worked the game at Capital Centre.
The Bullets' victory before a capacity crowd of 19,035 somewhat atoned for the 125-93 licking the 76ers put on them Saturday night in Philadelphia.
The 76ers went into the game with the Eastern Conference championship in hand and the Bullets could not improve on their third-place conference standing, so both teams played free and easy. There was plenty of laughing and talking on the floor.
George McGinnis set out yesterday's game with a sore big toe. Julius Erving took it upon himself to get the 76ers started. He scored nine points in the first quarter and ended leading all scorers with 31 points.
Phil Chenier broke out of his shooting slump for the Bullets by making 12 of 19 shots and scoring 29 points. He made one of nine Saturday night.
Chenier's backcourt teammate, Tom Henderson, added 19 points and seven assists. Elvin Hayes scored 21 points and had 19 rebounds.
Rookie Mitch Kupchak scored 23 points and made 10 of 17 field-goal attempts to finish the season shooting 57.2 per cent, the highest every by an NBA rookie. He also became the most accurate shooter in Bullet history, sur-passing the 56.1 per cent Wes Unseld shot to lead the league last season.
"Considering the shots I take, I should be shooting 75 per cent," Kupchak said. "I get a lot of nice passes and shoot a lot of layups.'
Bullet coach Motta was pleased with Chenier's showing. "I think he's ready now," Motta said.
The shots just weren't going down before," Chenier said, "and after a while I started second-guessing myself.
"This is just one game, but I had my rhythm. That's good going into the playoffs."
The 76ers began the third period with an 8-0 spurt to increase their three-point halftime lead to 68-57.
The Bullets then outscored the visitors, 34-16, to take a 93-86 lead late in the third period.
Chenier scored 12 of 16 Bullet points during part of that stretch.
Philadelphia got to within three points at 98-95 on a layup by Doug Collins early in the fourth period, but Henderson, Chenier and Kupchak ignited a 12-4 Bullet spurt to silence the 76ers.
Motta said yesterday's game was a "pride thing. Nothing else was at stake."
Motta added that the Bullets will practice today and Tuesday in preparation for the Cavaliers. "We don't prepare for a particular team during the season, but we'll look at some Cleveland game films and break down their plays," he said. "Everything is sudden death now."
Motta added that he didn't particularly care who the Bullets played in the first round, noting that the Bullets beat Boston 4-0 and Cleveland 3-1 in the season series.
Yesterday's sellout crowd increased the Bullets' average attendance for the season to 11,412, a team record.