Another torrential flood - this time of Bullet baskets - hit this disaster-struck town tonight as Washington imundated the Phoenix Suns, 137-129.
An NBA team wins eight consecutive road games about as often as bridges are washed downstream in Arizona. Nevertheless, that's what the Bullets managed, setting a club record for road victories in a row.
Washington's 16th victory in 18 games was a masterpiece of offensive gluttony as the Bullets' best artillery pieces-Bobby Dandridge, Elvin Hayes and Kevin Grevey-fired 36, 29 and 27 points, respectively.
"We just ate'em up," grinned Grevey. "They didn't know where they were coming down from all night . . . They don't have any muscle what so ever and we did a little bit of everything.
"We went off tackle with Elvin and Bobby down low, and when they're cookin', I can stand outside and shoot my little 20-footers all night."
The Bullets came close to executing a total blowout of the quality Suns, a 20-13 team of finesse artists.
"Considering that Wes Unseld was 3,000 miles away (with a rib injury) and that Mitch (Kupchak) had some foul trouble, I thought we came pretty close to an awesome game," said Dandridge, thinking back to Bullets leads as high as 19 points.
"We got careless and a little flustered by their press, and we ended up scaring ourselves."
This game was a showcase of Bullet firepower and Phoenix defensive ineptness until the final five minutes. Paul Westphal led a rush that closed a 117-102 deficit to 129-127 with 58 seconds to play.
The acrobatic, ambidextrous Westphal had 23 of his 36 points in the second half and with Walter Davis (27) awakened the surly crowd of 9,789.
Even when Alvin Adams stole a Bullet inbound pass and threw down a monster dunk to cut the Washington lead to that narrow 129-127, the visitors seemed calm.
The Bullets ran 20 seconds off the clock before Grevey fired a 22-footer which was partially deflected by 6-foot-, Alvin Scott, who left Hayes on a switch.
Hayes alertly watched the ball, instead of blindly fighting for rebound position. Seeing that Grevey's bomb would end as an air ball, he leaped and grabbed the ball at rim level and laid it in for a 131-127 lead with 34 seconds left.
"That broke their backs," said Hayes. "The crowd shut completely and they went flat."
"That's just my lob-and-layup play," kidded Grevey. "Did they give me my rightful assist on that?"
This victory also was Coach Dick Motta's 471st, tying him with Alex Hannum for third place on the all-time NBA coaches list behind only Red Auerbach and Red Holzman.
"Do you think if I got my hair dyed red they'd call be 'Red Motta?" quipped the coach.
It was the measure of the Bullets' excellence tonight that much of this game was a laughter. Motta could snicker as the Suns coaches drew two technicals.
When Dandridge inexplicitly received a technical, Motta smiled at referee Earl Strom and pointed at paunchy rookie official Roger McCann who mad the call and asked, "Has he got a complex?"
"Your gentleman attacked his integrity," answered Strom with a wry smile.
"Oh," answred Motta. "I thought he might have mentioned his physique."
That levity was quickly squelched by Kupchak's fourth foul early in the third quarter. Third-string center Dave Corzine was not the answer to anything.
Suffice to say that Bullet coaches spent more than a minute yelling to Corzine, "Tie your shelace, Dave," before the rookie realized he had been in danger of disabling himself.
Kupchak returend to score 10 of his 16 points in the late going.
This game was decided by the only thing in Phenix that is wetter than the Salt River Flood plain, the defense of the Suns.