Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Washington's Kevin Grevey and Houston's Calvin Murphy staged an old-fashioned backyard shootout Friday night. By the time the gunning ended. Grevey had scored 43 points, Murphy 46 and the record books of both NBA teams had new entries.
The eye-popping marksmanship of the two guards overshadowed a fine comeback by the undermanned Rockets, who erased a 20-point first-half deficit before falling at the end, 117-114.
Grevey appropriately made the final two fould shots with eight seconds left to wrap up the triumph. It was Washington's fourth straight victory and sixth in its last seven games. The Bullets play in San Antonio tonight in an attempt to close to within 3 1/2 games of the Spurs in the Central Division race.
"It looked like we have a game of HORSE out there," said Grevey of his duel with Murphy. I guess there wasn't a whole lot of defense being played."
Grevey's point total was a career high, topping his 32-point effort last week against Detroit. He also said it was the "most points I've ever scored anywhere. I had 40 once in college."
Grevey made 15 of 24 shots and was 13 for 15 from the foul line. He had 29 points in the first half and Coach Dick Motta felt "he could have had 50 if he didn't pull a groin muscle just before the half.
"One of these days, he's going to get 50. He's got a live body and he can explode. He plays with enthusiasm, he has the ability to move, he can drive or pull up for a shot. In practice today, he must have hit 20 straight shots."
Grevey pulled the muscle in the last minute of the second quarter after he had converted six straight shots that pulled the Bullets to a 74-58 half-time lead. he said in the second half "I was only able to go three-quarter speed. I didn't want to aggravate it more.
"Coach has been working with me on shooting off screens and that is helping. He told me I was dribbling too much, so I'm just coming off the screen and shooting right away. I'm bigger than the guys guarding me so I don't have to fool around. I had confidence tonoght and they kept getting the ball to me."
Despite Grevey's heroics, which gives him 126 points (31.5) over the last four games, Murphy was just as impressive. He almost singlehandly enabled the Rockets to break what is now a seven-game losing streak.
Murphy had 26 points in the opening half and added 20 in the second. He made 12 in the fourth quarter when Houston was able to tie, but never move ahead, of Washington.
Murphy's outburst broke his career high and also was the most points anyone has ever scored in the Summit. His 21 field goals broke Elvin Hayes' club record of 20. Grevey's 43-point total was the most by any opponent in the Summit.
Houston also benefited from Coach Tom Nissalke's halftime decision to substitute forward Ed Ratleff for guard John Lucas, who couldn't cope with Grevey's shooting.
Ratleff did a better job on the slowed-down Grevey, who was only four of 10 after intermission. The Bullets lost some of their zip and got engaged in a slower-paced game, which is what the Rockets wanted.
"We weren't attacking and pushing it," said Motta, "but you have to expect a letdown. Everything came too easy in the first half, we were taking it too lightly. I was afraid of this game, scarred stiff about it. I'm just glad we won it."
The victory wan't easy. Houston tied it for the last time at 98 before five quick points by Mitch Kupchak (16 points for the night) and two foul shots by Bob Dandridge gave the Bullets a seven-point edge.
Houston pulled to within 115-112 on three Murphy baskets and a hook by Dwight Jones. Dandridge threw away a pass, Murphy missed a 15-footer and Grevey made two free throws to cut off the Rocket rally.
Washingon made 37 of 43 foul shots compared to 14 of 15 by Houston. Hayes had 18 points and 16 rebounds and Wes United pulled in 18 rebounds.
No Rocket besides Murphy could score more than 12 points. Houston is playing without Rudy Tomjanovich, Moses Malone (fractured foot) and Mike Newlin (bad back).
"If Kevin's leg is okay, we should be ready for San Antonio," said Motta. "If we are going to do anything in this race, this is the time to do it."