The Philadelphia 76ers, playing without superstars Julius Erving and Doug Collins, wore down the injury-riddled Washington Bullets late in the second period and sped away to a 107-99 triumph before a crowd of 15,151 today at the Spectrum.
Erving's replacement, Darryl Dawkins, gave Bullet defender Elvin Hayes the blues for most of the Washington forward's 33 minutes.
Dawkins, 6-foot-11, 258-pound dunk king, saved 13 of his team-high 24 points for the third period when the 76ers expanded a four-point halftime lead to a commanding 84-67 advantage going into the last quarter.
The Bullets trailed, 51-49, before Dawkins began his version of what he calls "DD Interplanetary Funkmanship." He assisted teammate Caldwell Jones on a basket, sank a free throw lead the 76ers to a 58-49 lead.
The Bullets, with Hayes suffering from the flu and Wes Unseld (ankle), Kevin Grevey (hamstring) and Mitch Kupchak (heel) limping, ran out of gas and players as the Philadelphians oiled up their fast break and ran away with the nationally televised game.
The victory left Philadelphia four games behind the Bullets, 37-16, in the Atlantic Division. The 76ers have won two of their three games this season against Washington.
"Actually, we let them get away from us in the second period," said Washington Coach Dick Motta. "Mitch probably played longer than he should, Elvin was sick and Kevin couldn't go on. If we were within, say, six points with about three minutes left, I might have used Wes again. But we weren't."
Motta said he planned to send Kupchak and Grevey back to Washington today so they can rest. The Bullets will play their next four games on the road before returning home against Houston Feb. 20.
Motta said guard Phild Chenier was not quite "100 percent yet," but that there was a possibility he might send for him for the trip.
"If I find out one of the guys might be out for a long time, I'll probably activate Phil," Motta said. "I have to wait to see what happens, though."
Hayes was Washington's only offensive force in the 76ers' runaway third quarter, scoring nine of his 16 points. But he could do nothing to slow Dawkins, who was enjoying a rare start with Erving out on a sprained ankle.
The man who nicknames all his dunk shots leaped over Hayes for what he terms a "one we owe you" stuff, Hayes was called for a foul and Dawkins' free throw increased the 76ers' lead to 67-52 with 5:25 left in the period.
Dawkins finished off his impressive 12-minute burst with three outside shots over Hayes.
"We played like a team out there today," said Dawkins, who also had 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. "I don't like to see Doug (bone spur on foot) or the Doctor (Erving) out. I just go out and play my game."
Other 76er reserves had a hand in handing the Bullets their first road defeat in four games. Joe Bryant, with 15 points, and recently acquired Eric Money, with 15, got hot in the second period when Philadelphia turned a seven-point Washington lead into a 49-45 advantage their way at the half.
Bryant scored eight points in the quarter, six coming on follows of his own misses.
"Money hasn't got into the complete flow of our offense yet, but he came in and gave us a big lift," said 76er Coach Billy Cunningham. "When you've got 50 points (Collins and Erving) out, you need that. Both Darryl and Caldwell did a great job getting the ball down low and rebounding. Our defensive rebounding and defense, period, was good."
Cunningham said he planned to sign former Kansas City forward Marlon Redmon today to a 10-day trial in case Erving will be sidelined longer than expected.
Behind by 17 points going into the final 12 minutes, Motta went with a lineup of Tom Henderson, Bobby Dandridge banked home a shot and the and Greg Ballard.
The 76ers relaxed just a moment and the Bullets came winging back.
"A little at a time," Motta yelled to his troops following a Dandridge follow-up shot that cut the deficit to 87-75 with 9:12 to play.
Wright sped past lagging 76er defenders for two driving layups, Dandrige banked have a shot and the Bullets were within six points with 7:32 left.
Just before the ball was put into play following, a Philadelphia timeout, Motta and Sixer point guard Henry Bibby stood on the sideline smiling, trading friendly barbs.
"I just told him, don't get excited, we were still going to win this one," said Bibby. "He told me Bobby (Jones) was going down to set another illegal pick on Dandridge. I told him not this time."
Jones, who had problems with Dandridge (29 points and 17 rebounds), didn't set any picks, but Cunningham quickly sent Dawkins back in. And, as quick as you can say "in your face," Dawkins slammed home a two-handed dunk, made a three-point play and hauled down two rebounds to get the 76ers out to a more comfortable 95-83 lead with 5:04 left.
Four Wright baskets and two driving layups by Henderson were offset by Jones' nine points, seven from the free throw line, as the 76ers held off the charge.
"We played very well today," said Bibby. "Our break was going and we had a good defensive game. Without the Doc and Doug, we look for some other people to shoot a little more."
Caldwell Jones had 13 points to go with his 19 rebounds, 18 of which came at the defensive end, and Bobby Jones added 16 points to give Philadelphia six players in double figures.
The 76ers shot 50 percent, making 39 of 78, and outrebounded Washington, 52-50. Hayes made only seven of 23 shots.
"I think the game meant a little more to them than to us," said Dandridge. "I don't know to what extent our injuries will hurt us right now, but I think the guys would be better off taking off this week and letting the injuries heal. We're still strong enough to go out and play okay. We'll do all right."
Washington next plays in San Diego Tuesday night.