Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Reports that the Bullet fast break was on extneded vacation proved premature last night. Washington's running game came off the missing-offense list for the first time this season, not a game too soon as far as Washington fans were concerned.
If the Bullets hadn't been ready to sprint and gun, they might have been blown into the Potomac River by the San Antonio Spurs. Instead, they scrambled well enough to overcome the Southwest gazelles, 124-119, at Capital Center in a game that wore out shooting arms as well legs.
For a while, it seemed that the two clubs were aiming for an NBA scoring record. They combined for 134 points in the first half when defense was a forgotten word.
But Washington settled down just enough in the fourth period to overcome a typical one-man sho by a Spur guard. This time, however, the San Antonio gunner was James Silas, not George Gervin.
Silas, once an ABA superstar who has been slowed by a severe knee injury, showed flashes of his old form by scoring 15 of his 24 points in the last 12 minutes mainly by going one on one against whoever was guarding him at the top of the key.
If Silas had been given more defensive help at the other end, the outcome might have been different. But the Bullets were able to work the ball nicely against San Antonio's zone and Charles Johnson was taking full advantage of open shooting opportunities by sinking five baskets in the quarter en route to a 19-point game.
Those points, plus a steal by Tom Henderson from George Gervin, who had 27 points, with 96 seconds left and a season-high 28 points from Elvin Hayes, wrapped up Washington's sixth victory in 11 games. And the Bullets accomplished this one without much help from Coach Dick Motta.
Motta was ejected in the first period after picking up two technical fouls when referee Jack Madden objected to his applauding too vigorously on a San Antonio foul call. Motta was upset this his club had already picked up three hand-checking fouls and decided that jumping up and down in front of his bench and cheering was the best way to demonstrate his ire.
He missed a fun game. Neither team could miss in the first half but both were so tired in the second that the basket eluded most of their shots. That, however, didn't stop the players from running and tossing up attempts in machine-gun fashion.
San Antonio finally weakened slightly in the third quarter when Gervin went ice cold, missing six shots, and the Bullets built an eightpoint lead.
Hayes, who is finding the range with his turnaround jumper after a slow start, had eight points in the third period. But even he couldn't stop the Spurs from catching up behind Silas, whose jump shot with 5:20 left in the game put his club ahead, 107-106.
Now it was a matter of which club got the next break. That nod went to the Bullets when Henderson batted the ball away from Gervin and drove in for a basket to give Washington a 120-115 margin with 1:33 to go.
Washington had mixed emotions about Silas' performance. He almost won the game, yet with him handling the ball so much it meant Gervin was a spectator-and the Bullets already know what "the Iceman" can do down the stretch.
"One thing about San Antonio," said Hayes. "They just love to come down the court, see an opening, and put up a shot. If it doesn't go in, they don't worry about it. It's a carefree attitude."
It's also a fine way to play as long as there is less physical contact allowed in the league. The refs told the teams before the game that absolutely no hand contact would be tolerated and, true to their word, none was.
"We had to talk a halftime about adjusting to hand-checking," said Washington Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who took over for Motta "They were isolating us and working one on one. It plays right into their style."