Bullet Coach Dick Motta calls these the NBA's dog days, when everyone begins to tire and teams start slumping. If he is right, then at least three of his players had purebred performances yesterday in a 130-111 romp over New Orleans.
Larry Wright, admittedly depressed during the club's recent 17-day road trip, scampered around like the jitterbug of the season's early months. In 30 minutes, he had 16-points, eight assists and enough drive to get the Bullets' fast-break flowing.
Elvin Hayes, who has turned his games with Truck Robinson into personal battles, decisively won this year's third confrontation between the two. He outscored Robinson, 31-14, outhustled him and limited him to six rebounds, 10 fewer than his league-leading average.
And West Unseld, who wondered aloud a month ago how he might do with more playing time, had 15 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and had eight assists in 36 minutes, five more than he was averaging before Mitch Kupchak was hurt.
With blue-ribbon shooting from Bob Dandridge (22 points) and Kevin Grevey (19), Washington just had too much firepower for the Jazz, playing again without Pete Maravich.
Wright's standout effort was especially encouraging for the unpredictable Bullets, who play like King Kong at home and Mr. Mugs on the road.
"he was the spark, the guy who pushed the ball up the court," said Motta. "I think he's out of his slump and that's a good sign. When he plays like that he's an asset for us. He does so many things well and he was free and loose. That's good too."
Wright, who wound up the road trip scoring just four points in each of the last two games, had a talk with Motta and Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff last week about his role on the team.He says that has helped clear the air.
"I'm playing like myself," he said. "I'm using my speed, I'm trying to get the ball up the court fast and get a fast pace. I was letting the big guys push me around and I can't do that either."
No one pushed him around yesterday. With the Bullets ahead, 24-21, late in the first quarter, Wright, who jammed his wrist in the second half, replaced Tom Henderson and soon perked up the club. He hit full stride midway through the second period, serving as the catalyst in a surge that put Washington in front, 44-31.
He finished that spurt with a driving layup in which he looked off Gail Goodrich, then made a lefthanded shot. The basket came after three Hayes' straight successful jumpers and forced the Jazz to call time and hope a rest would cool off the hot-shooting 61 percent at that juncture) Bullets.
But no once could cool off Hayes. Despite moving farther from the basket than normal, he was unstoppable. And the more jump shots he swished, the more Robinson became determined to stop him. Hayes said that was exactly what he had hoped would happen, so he could lure Robinson away from the basket.
"You can't come out and play against one player, but that is what Truck was doing," said Hayes. "It was obvious and it made it easy for me to trap him. He's got to stop playing against Washington and start playing for New Orleans. He has to mature into a team concept, and worry about getting New Orleans into the playoffs."
Robinson said he was impressed with the way Hayes shot - "I've never seen him hit like that" - but quickly added, "He talked a lot of stuff out there, but when you are going good you can. He's entitled to one good game against me after all the jumpers I've stuffed back at him in the past."
With Robinson and Hayes jawing and eyeballing each other outside, Unseld, who is bothered by fluid on the knee, was free to roam inside. He blocked a couple of shots, and seven offensive rebounds and ran his rebound average over the last seven games to 17, seven more than he was pulling down before Kupchak's injury.
made this week on whether or not to operate.
Guard Phil Chenier's back has improved slightly since last week and Dr. Stanford Lavine said yesterday it was unlikely a decision would be [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]