Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Washington Bullets came from seven points behind in the last two minutes but lost last night when Denver's David Thompson banked in a soaring layup over Elvin Hayes with four seconds to go.
Thompson should never have gotten the shot that gave the Nuggets a 101-100 victory. But the Bullets were unable to hold the ball for the game's final 20 seconds and that inability ruined what had been a great rally before 9,457 Capital Centre patrons.
"This is a tough onne to swallow," said Bullet coach Dick Motta. What stuck most in the throat was a turnover with 10 seconds remaining.
Following a miss by Denver's Bobby Wilkerson, the Bullets called time with 20 seconds on the clock. They couldn't get the ball in bounds the first try and again called time. On the second try, they got the ball in bounds and Hayes would up with it about four feet to the left of the basket.
He lost the ball, then picked it up andd wheeled toward the lane. When he spotted Mitch Kupchak free in the corner he tried to pass. But the ball was high and hard and Kupchak couldn't handle it. The pass went through his hands and out of bounds to Denver.
The Nuggests called time. Then they, too, had difficulty getting the ball into play. Bobby Jones' pass went off Wes Unseld's hands and out of bounds. Jones was able to get the ball to Wilkerson the second time. He dribbled from right to left across the key, then passed off to Thompson, who was coming up from the baseline.
Bob Dandridge tried to intercept the pass but missed andd suddenly Thompson had the ball and no one but Hayes between him and the basket.
Thompson took a couple of dribbles, then went into one of those kangaroo leaps he made famous at North Carolina State. Hayes timed his jump well but Thompson managed to get the shot off and over Hayes' hand. It hit high on the glass and caromed in.
Washington immediately called a time-out. The Bullets then ran a play for Phil Chenier but he was double-teamed at the high post, jumped and tried to shoot but couldn't. Instead, he passed inside, where the ball was batted away as the buzzer sounded.
"This is the type of game you don't like to lose," said Motta. "If we hadn't come back from seven down, it would be another story. But to rally and not do what we had to do, it's tough."
What especially irked Motta is that the Bullets had everything in their favor with 20 seconds to go: The ball, limited time, two time-outs and even a foul to give. But after losing possession, they couldn't even foul and waste more time.
Things had looked bleak for Washington with two minutes left, hwn Denver grabbed a 99-92 lead as Thompson quickly hit six of his 26 points.
But then the Bullets ripped off eight unanswered points before Denver coach Larry Brown could call a time-out.
Hayes got things started with two foul shots. Thompson missed a jumper and Dandridge, who had battled Thompson all night, drove the lane for a short basket. Thompson failed on a layup over Hayes' tough defense and Jones was called for a rebound foul.
Heyes, who had missed four foul shots earlier in the game, made both attempt. Jones then tossed up a weak hook shot, again against a leaping Hayes, and Tom Henderson countered with a twisting layup that hit the front of the rim, then the back and fell in for a 100-99 lead with 34 seconds left.
The Bullets quickly got the ball back when Wilkerson, the man they wanted to shoot, couldn't put in a left-side jump shot. Hayes got the rebound, his 18th, and Washington called time.