Although they have done it in different ways, Kevin Grevey and Larry Wright have supplied the one extra ingredient the Bullets have needed to dominate their playoff series against Atlanta.
Washington Coach Dick Motta calls it "the hot hand' 'thory. To utilize fully his two main offensive weapons, Bob Dandridge and Elvin Hayes, the Bullets must have at least one other player scoring consistently, usually from outside.
Otherwise, opponents can sag and double team their defense around the two forwards, preventing the Bullets from running their regular offense.
"We just need to continue to have fairly balanced scoring," Motta said about tonight's fifth game of this Eastern Conference semifinal series before a sellout crowd in Capital Centre.
The Bullets, who hold a 3-1 advantage, could advance to the conference finals by winning the 8:30 p.m. contest. They are favored by 6 1/2 points.
"I thought the last game was more indicative of how we should be playing," Motta said. "We had seven guys in double figures and had enough good scoring from Kevin and Larry to take some of the burden off Bobby and Elvin.
"Those two are still going to carry the bulk of our offense. But others have to pick up some of the load or we are in trouble.
That fact was proven in Game 1, in which only Dandridge scored consistently, Hayes was limited to 10 points, no other Bullet could respond with extra points, and Atlanta won easily.
The three Bullet victories, however, have been a different story. Hayes and Dandridge have been superb. Wright has had excellent scoring performances in Games 1 and 4, and Grevey hit some pressure baskets in Nos. 3 and 4.
The pattern was the same in the playoffs last year," Motta said. "Every series, we found one guard who had a hot hand and we stayed with him. So far, Larry has been the main man, although Kevin is showing signs of getting into the groove better."
Grevey, who was hampered by hamstring pulls the last third of the season, caught fire in the fourth quarter Friday night and showed the kind of accurate outside shooting he normally produces against the sagging Hawks, who gamble that teams won't consistently make long-range attempts.
He followed that effort with a struggling two-for-nine display Sunday-until overtime. Then he sank two long jumpers, the second while falling almost out of bounds along the Bullet bench, to nail down the triumph for Washington.
Grevey's career high of 41 points came in last year's playoffs against Atlanta, when he popped in shots similar to Sunday's with uncanny regularity.
"I'm still not entirely comfortable out there," he said. "I feel better every game, but I'm pushing because I know we need some outside shooting to take the pressure off the inside. That's on my mind."
Wright's role is entirely different. The Bullets ask him to use his quick-silver quickness-only Randy Smith of San Diego and Gus Williams of Seattle may be able to accelerate as well-to increase the tempo of games, either by creating his own transition baskets or by being at the finishing end of fast breaks.
In the series opener, he combined with Wes Unseld to outrun the Hawks in the fourth period and break open what had been a tight game. Unseld would rebound and toss one of those line-drive outlet passes to halfcourt, where Wright would catch it and streak in for either a basket or an assist.
He finished with six points and two assists in the fourth period of that game. He impressed the CBS announcers so much they selected him as the MVP despite 31 points from Hayes and 30 from Dandridge.
His role in the fourth-game victory was just as important, although it was overshadowed by Dandridge's incredible pressure scoring and Grevey's long-range heroics.
In the third period, with the Bullets down by 12, Wright replaced Grevey. Suddenly, his team caught fire. He slashed through the Hawk defense, forcing the ball upcourt when it seemed Washington had no fast-break opportunities. The Hawks were caught off guard and Wright wound up scoring 12 points that erased almost all the scoreboard deficit.
"They like to press a lot, and that lets me use my speed," Wright said. "I'm getting the ball upcourt, but I'm not stopping and setting up like they want us to. When I get a step on them, I keep pushing it. Dick wants me to create something in there on my own, and if I get it going, I'll keep trying to make shots.
"Sunday, he sent me in for Kevin so I knew he wanted some points from me.When I play point guard (for Tom Henderson), I have to concentrate more on making other people look good and running the offense. He left me in a long time on Fridya (in Game 3) and I didn't score, but I think I played well."
Much of Wright's scoring comes on a free-lance basis, which contradicts Motta's basic offensive philosophy of working patterns. But the Washington coach feels Wright's ability to give defenses a different look enhances his own concepts.
"If you give a team too much of the same stuff, you get predictable," he said. "When Larry is in there, along with the other reserves, teams aren't sure how to stop us, and that's good."
This series already is unique for Wright. He is being guarded for the most part by 5-8 Charlie Criss, the one player in the league considerably smaller than the 6-foot-1 Bullet jitterbug.
"Charlie is a tough, competitor," Wright said. "But, hey, it is nice to be bigger than someone else for a change."
The Bullets had a light workout yesterday, giving a day of rest to Henderson (who called in sick), Grevey (who was not feeling well), Unseld (whose knees are aching) and Dandridge (who has soreness in a groin muscle) . . . "I am worried about a letdown," Motta said, "but no one wants to go back to Atlanta. That should be incentive enough for us to play well" . . . If the Bullets do win-and San Antonio beats Philadelphia Thursday to end that semifinal series-the conference finals will begin Sunday at Capital Centre. Game 2 probably would be May 3, also in the Centre. CAPTION: Picture, Larry Wright has given the Bullets an offensive lift in playoffs with Atlanta. By Richard Darcy-The Washington Post