As San Antonio Coach Doug Moe stomped toward his dressing room yesterday, he stopped at midcourt, fixed an icy glare at referee Ed Middleton and unleashed a stream of obscenities. The Grated translation: "You ripped us off."
Moe and many of his players believed that Elvin Hayes' block of a George Gervin shot with 32 seconds remaining was a clear goal tending violation. The Spurs were trailing by a point, and needed the whistle for the basket desperately. It never blew.
The Spurs got possession, but Washington's Bobby Dandridge stole an errant Louie Dampier pass, Charles Johnson sank two free throws with 11 seconds to play, and the Bullets had themselves a 98-95 victory over the Spurs and a 3-1 edge in this best-of-seven NBA playoff series.
"I thought it was goaltending. Geez, he (Hayes) was right in front of the rim," Moe complained when it was over. "Eddie Middleton was just standling there. I couldn't believe he didn't call goaltending."
Moe also moaned that Gervin had been fouled going up with his shot and complained that Gervin was getting mauled all day. Gervin shot 17 free throws yesterday but Moe wanted more.
"It's tough, they shove and push. Gervin was getting tackled out there . . . One time they grabbed his arm three times. The ball kept popping up. The ball goes down if you're hitting the ball, not up."
Bullet Coach Dick Motta disagreed.
"He (Gervin) is a great natural resource," he said, "but he's not Old Faithful. They don't need to protect him that much."
Gervin refused to be drawn into any sort of referee-baiting as he dressed to the beat of a blaring radio over his locker.
Did he think Hayes was guilty of goaltending? he was asked.
"I didn't see it, man," he said.
Was he bumped?
"I got no comment on that. I just play the game and let the officials officiate. There's nothing I can really say. What good would that do, anyway? I try to be respecful, I just put up the shot and it came back. Whate else can I say?"
"Sure it was goaltending," said a not-so-shy Larry Kenon. "The ball was coming down. Everybody thought it was goaltending because we all kinda' relaxed. But they didn't call it. It seemed liked every break went their way, so what can you do?"
Moe was also complaining about the previous Bullet basket, a Hayes lay-in after a lovely lob passs from Larry Wright with 46 seconds remaining for a 96-95 Washington lead. Moe maintained Hayes had pushed off defender Mike Green to get free. "He shoved Mike Green in the back," he growled.
But Green disagreed.
"Nah, it was just a great play on the guard's part. I was supposed to be overplaying Elvin, I was fronting him. The guard (Wright) saw it. I should have been getting some off-side help, but nobody was there when Elvin rolled to the basket. Just give them credit for a nice play, and a real big play, too."