There may be nothing worse in sports than playing out a lopsided NBA exhibition game. But for the Bullets, their 119.99 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers tonight was easier to take than the deal that sent Walt Frazier to Cleveland.
Although Frazier now says he is thinking about retiring rather than reporting to the Cavaliers. Washington officials expect him to wind up in the backcourt of their Central Division rival. And that isn't good news for the Bullets.
He'll definitely help them," said coach Dick Motta. "He fits right in with their style of play. They want to set up and that's the way he likes to play."
The Bullets had been overjoyed that Jim Cleamons had played out his option with Cleveland. They knew his absence would weaken the Cavaliers.
"He (Frazier) isn't burned out," said Motta. "He can help them." But Elvin Hayes wondered whether "Clyde can be cool in Cleveland.But for $4000,000 a year, I guess he'll find a way."
The Bullets couldn't find a way tonight to control George McGinnis, sho had 35 points off a series of moves that included dunks, floating jumps shots and running layups. The rest of the 76ers followed his lead and easily handed the Bullets their first exhibition loss in four attempts.
"We were O.K. for a period and a half but the shots just weren't falling," said Motta. "Then the young kids lost their composure and it got away from us. But they'll learn from it."
What they learned is that Darryl Dawkins can dunk the ball. Dough Collins can stick it in from 25 feet and McGinnis can do almost anything he wants to.
Although Motta was able to give Greg Ballard, Bo Ellis, Joe Pace, Goniel Norman and Phil Walker gobs of playing time during the trip, he'd now like to get at least Bob Dandridge and Tom Henderson in shape for the team's four straight games next week. Among those contests is a rematch with the 76ers Thursday night in Capital Centre, where the injured Julius Erving (bad knee) may play.
The best of the Bullets tonight was Pace, who has impressive physical skills, especially when allowed to maneuver around the basket. His 18 points topped the team scorings and he also added two blocked shots.
The Bullets probably would like to keep Pace, but his only chance of sticking would be if the National Labor Relations Board decides that the roster limit should be 12 instead of 11. The board is expected to make a decision this week.
"Now is the time to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together."said Motta. "That opening game (Oct. 21) is getting a lot closer.