Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Bobby Dandridge tried to dismiss his first game here against his old teammates, the Milwaukee Bucks, as nothing special, but you couldn't tell it by the way he played.
He scored 26 points, 14 in the first quarter, as he and Elvin Hayes, who had 29 points, led the Bullets to a 108-95 victory over the young Bucks.
"It was a joy to see him come out like that and have a big a game," said Hayes, who turned in a fine performance of his own. Hayes had 19 rebounds four assists and three steals.
"Anytime you come back for the first game, it's easy to start slow," continued Hayes, who learned from experience after being traded by Houston to Washington. "But he's that kind of player. He's a pro."
The Bullets are a difficult team to beat when their two forwards play like they did tonight. Toss in 14 rebounds from Wes Unseld, 11 assists from Tom Henderson, a 58-32 edge in rebounding and 54 per shooting and it's easy to see why this was one of Washington's best efforts of the season.
The Bullets have won their last three road games and seven of their last eight contests to improve their record to 11-7. They are two games behind Central Division leader Cleveland going into Saturday night's game against Boston in Capital Centre.
Washington gets a shot to further close the Cavaliers' margin when it plays in Cleveland at 7:30 Sunday night.
Dandridge, who left Milwaukee after last season and signed with Washington as a free agent, said he played tonight "without any bad feelings or negative thoughts. This didn't mean anymore than any game at this time of year."
But the Bullet coaching staff was convinced Dandridge was ready at Thursday's practice. He showed those predictions were right with his first-quarter demonstration, which included a techinal foul for good measure.
He didn't miss any of seven shots in the first half and was 12 for 15 for the game. He also had a couple of baskets in the final minutes that helped prevent the Bucks from reducing the Bullets' sizeable lead.
Hayes also had incentive. When the Bucks beat Washington early last month, ahe was burned a few times by Dave Meyers on fast breaks and wound up scoring only six points.
"Bill Russell once told me that every time someone has a night against you, you will get your chance for revenge," Hayes daid. "In this league you always get another shot. Sometimes you have to play to please yourself."
Hayes set Meyers up for the kill by going hard to the offensive boards in the first quarter when Dandridge was hot. THen, he began running hard on fast breaks the next two quarters. Meyers was caught lagging and Hayes was able to score 22 points by the end of the third period.
"When Bobby and I play like this we are like (Bob) Love and (Chet) Walker were with Chicago," said Hayes. Dick Motta, who coached Love and Walker before coming to Washington went even further. "They (Hayes and Dandridge) are the best forward combination in the league," he said. "Look how they played in this one for proof."
Motta didn't see the final three quarters. He was tossed out of the game by referee Jim Capers late in the first period for protesting to much when no one called what he thought was an obvious foul against Hayes.
"They are getting too sensitive," said Motta, who also was ejected in the first half of the first Milwaukee game. "They've got to let a man earn a living out there."
He missed some fine play by his club. The Bucks last led in the game early in the second period before the Bullets outscored them, 15-6 to take a 46-39 lead.
Milwaukee closed that gap to four in the third quarter, but the Bullets got four points each from Hayes, Dandridge and Phil Chenier before the buzzer to take a 10-point spread into the last 12 minutes.
With Washington dominating inside - "it was easy, we just worked the ball in close," said playmaker Henderson - Milwaukee was unable to put together a closing rally.
"We are even playing well in practice," said Motta. "Things are just falling into place like we had hoped."