After getting a look at the revamped New York Knicks tonight, the Washington Bullets probably are wishing they'd go back to their old deliberate style.
At least the old Knicks couldn't score in bunches like the new ones did tonight. They tied two club records and fell just short of another in the 141-115 trouncing that was over midway through the third period.
"And I thought we were ready to play well," said a slightly stunned Bullet coach Dick Motta. "After awhile, I didn't know if we were awake enough to say we had gone to sleep out there."
The Bullets were alert enough to watch the Knicks go streaking by - again and again and again. New coach Willis Reed wants his team to quicken its pace and it did just that tonight, especially during a third-quarter display that left Washington thinking about its return flight home.
During the 12 minutes after intermission, the Knicks shot 76 per cent, scored 40 points and stretched a seven-point lead to 21, 102-81. The Knicks wound up scoring 115 points in the final three quarters to tie a club scoring record and the team's 61 field goals for the game tied another mark.
New York couldn't do anything wrong during the period. The Knicks converted every Bullet mistake into a basket, they made the right pass at the right time and they took only high-percentage shots. And hardly anyone missed.
"I mean, everyone they put iin turned into shooters," said Elvin Mayes. "It was unreal. They all became 60 per cent shooters. We had 55 points at halftime and still were behind by seven. We should have known it would be a ling night."
It became a long night as soon as the Knicks got untracked in the scoring sight unanswered points and then in high gear behind five straight points by Spencer Hayqwood, who had 18 for the night.
With Haywood and Bob McAdoo dominating things inside while Mitch Kupchak sat on the bench for the Bullets, the Knicks soon built anu 83-64 lead. Of their first 21 points in the quarter, 13 came from McAdoo and Hayqwood, mostly off easy inside shots.
"We were a half-step behind most of the night, and you could really see it in the third quarter," said Motta. "They just flat outran us and a lot of the problem was our offense. We weren't crisp, hot like we have been."
Motta had only to look back to the season opener Friday night to see a crisp Bullet team that ran over Detroit. He said he expected a similar performance tonight, "off the momentum we had and how our attitude was."
But he forget to check first with the Knicks. They even got eight assists from McAdoo, which may be a personal high, en route to scoring more points than in all except one game last year.
At the half, the Bullets appeared to have survived a shaky opening. Although they hadn't played particularly well, they stayed close to the Knicks who were relying almost completely on the play of rookie guard Ray Williams.
Williams had 12 points in the first 14 minutes and was performing so well that Reed, who substitutes liberally, sent him in to replace Earl Monroe at one point when the Bullets were rallying.
The best Washington could manage was a 33.38 tie before the Knicks began to pull away. New York shot 58 per cent for the night compared to 39 per cent for the Bullets, who had made 54 per cent of their tries against Detroit.