To the basketball perfectionist, the game was two hours of horror: bad passes, terrible shooting, careless play and just about anything else that can make a meaningless midweek NBA game so dreadful. But for Bullet rookie Dave Corzine, there were eight minutes of beauty sprinkled among the ugliness.
It was during those final eight minutes of the Bullets' 117-102 victory over Cleveland at Capital Centre that Corzine got some precious playing time in this, his rookie pro season. For him, every second was an adventure.
"You just want to play, even if it's for only a few minutes," he said. "It's not easy sitting and watching every night. It's hard to get your mind into it, but you have to be ready when you get a chance."
This was Corzine's finest moment as a pro. He had one monster dunk mixed in with his three baskets (in three attempts) and he pulled down four rebounds to help the Bullets finish off the uninspired Cavaliers, who showed why they now have the worst record in the league.
Even a Capital Centre-record 23 points in the fourth quarter by Terry Furlow couldn't make Cleveland competitive. Coach Bill Fitch finally resorted to matching his first string against the Bullet reserves for most of the fourth period and the Cavs still were embarrassingly lethargic.
It was a grand night for Bullet Coach Dick Motta to experiment, once regular Bob Dandridge (17 points, six rebounds), Wes Unseld (11 rebounds), Kevin Grevey (17 points), Tom Henderson (15 points, 10 assists) and Elvin Hayes (16 points, 11 rebounds) finished putting away the game by crushing Cleveland with superior talent and a crisp fast break.
Hayes, who was still feeling the effects of a strained neck, chose not to start but got warmed up in the third period, scored 13 points and decided, "I don't want to make a career of coming off the bench."
Neither does Corzine, but the way he played last night allowed Motta to rest his regulars for the final eight minutes. That was important, since the Bullets have to travel to Houston for a game tonight against the Rockets (9 p.m., WDCA-TV-20).
"If we could get away with not playing the starters in the final minutes, it was a plus for us," said Motta. "Some of the guys will have to get up at 6 a.m. to make the plane, so this will help them be more rested."
Corzine would love to be tired after just one game this season. He has had to be content with appearances in only 15 games, covering just 79 minutes, after spending the bulk of his college career as a starter.
"It's a big adjustment but I knew coming here I probably wouldn't play a lot," said the former DePaul standout. "Sure, there are a lot of things I'd like different, but I just have to hope I improve and that eventually my time increases."
Until then, Corzine is busy improving his strength with an every-other-day weightlifting routine that he started on the recommendation of General Manager Bob Ferry.
"I'm stronger already," he said, "but it does effect your touch. For the first 10 minutes or so after I lift, I can't hit anything."
Motta would like both Corzine and fellow rookie Roger Phegley, who scored six points in four minutes last night, to get as much time as possible now, in case "we have injuries down the line and I need them. You have to make sure they are ready at the right time."
But on a veteran team such as the Bullets, getting minutes for rookies isn't easy. They are nine-deep in veterans, who can play at three-quarter speed, as they did against Cleveland, and still win in a romp.
Dandridge, who is playing as well as at anytime in his 10-year career, combined with Grevey for 22 first-quarter points for a 33-22 Washington lead. After the Cavaliers closed to six at the half, Hayes and Henderson made sure the game wouldn't get away from their club in the third.
At one point, Henderson, who isn't known for his markmanship, made seven straight shots, including a few twisting, spinning layups that defied gravity.
Fitch was so stunned by such shenanigans that he finally benched most of his regulars during the second and third period and used his reserves. But even that desperation strategy didn't help.
"We knew they wanted to get the ball out and run against us but we couldn't stop them," said Fitch. "Give credit to them. They've got a lot of talent and they are really using it well."