Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Remember when everyone laughed at the thought of Dick Motta coaching a fast-breaking Washington Bullets' offense? No one is even smiling at that thought anymore.
These are the run-and-gun, shoot-'em-up Bullets now. They've averaged 130 points the last eight games, climaxed by a sensational 143-94 annihilation of the New Jersey Nets Friday night.
In the eight-game stretch, they have won by margins of anywhere from 16 to 49 points and twice have triumphed by at least 40. They've shot 59 percent in the last three contests and haven't needed to play their regulars in the fourth quarter for much of the month.
The record for a winning margin in the NBA is 63 points, Los Angeles pulverizing Golden State, 162-99, in 1972.
In almost every game this month, the Bullets have blown away the opposition in the first half and last night was no exception. The intermission score tells it: Bullets 70, Nets 40.
San Antonio and Philadelphia, the premier offensive clubs in the league, have to make room for Washington. Motta's club is running at every opportunity, shooting as if the ball was guided by radar and playing wonderful team basketball. It's a lethal combination that has helped the Bullets win six of their last eight games, three in a row.
In those victories, one player has stood out and pulled Washington to its healthy first-half margins. Last night, it was Elvin Hayes. The veteran forward had the crowd at Rutgers Field House gasping over his early markmanship, hitting 11 of his first 13 shots, including nine in a row, to finish with 22 at intermission.
This was Hayes at his best, running the court on fast breaks and swishing his unique turnaround jump shot as if he was playing a Sunday afternoon pickup game.
He broke the Nets' heart with his 30 points and teammates crushed New Jersey's spirit. The Bullets had 18 assists in the first half and 10 fast-break baskets, four started by length-of-the-court passes from Wes Unseld, who would have made a marvelous NFL quarterback.
Washington outrebounded the Nets by a whopping 61-36 and had 13 more assists. The Bullets took the lead for good early in the first quarter during a 22-6 stretch and put away their foes by making 61 percent of their second-period shots, 11 of their first 13.