Tom McMillen, who dashes around the court like a giant stork, and Terry Furlow, who glides through games like an eagle, combined their contrasting styles last night to power the Atlanta Hawks to a stunning 107-103 upset of the Washington Bullets.
By winning the fifth game of this Eastern Conference semifinal series at Capital Centre, the Hawks avoided elimination and forced the Bullets to return to Atlanta Thursday night holding a 3-2 margin in the best-of-seven round.
McMillen, playing in place of foul-plagued John Drew, and Furlow, replacing guard Armond Hill, picked up the Hawks after their first unit fell behind by 11 points in the first period. McMillen ended with 19 points before fouling out in the final minute. Furlow had 21, including 16 after intermission.
The performances of those two players appeared sufficient to subdue Washington Midway through the last quarter. But the Bullets rallied from a nine-point deficit to have a chance to send the contest into overtime.
Then two shots by Bob Dandridge in the final 23 seconds failed. The first was blocked by Dan Roundfield and the second, arched high over Roundfield's outstretched hand, rimmed the basket and fell out.
Washington, however, really didn't play well enough to win the game after its fine first quarter effort. The Bullets complained afterwards they were done in by an 18-minute delay that began late in the first quarter when the scoreboard clock stopped working. By then they already had lost much of the momentum provided by their early outburst.
They emerged from the contest, another in series of bruising battles with the Hawks, with two injuries. Wes Unseld, who has been nursing sore knees, hobbled through the second half and couldn't play down the stretch. And Kevin Grevey bruised a shoulder in the third quarter and couldn't shoot.
Both are expected to play in game 6.
Atlanta turned in a truly gutty effort. The Hawks could have collapsed when faced with Washington's quick start, especially since they were coming off two heartbreaking losses on their home court over the weekend.
McMillen, who came in late in the first period, pumped in 12 first-half points to rally his club, which took over the lead from the stumbling Bullets midway through the second quarter. He either popped in long-range jumpers against sagging defenders or tapped in rebounds, whatever it took to wake up his club.
His teammates finally began following his lead. By the end of the game, the Hawks produced their unusual balanced scoring, with Eddie Johnson equaling McMillen's 19 points and Roundfield adding 18, plus 14 rebounds and two blocks.
In contrast, Washington had top-heavy scoring from Dandridge (24) and Elvin Hayes (26, plus 14 rebounds) but the Bullets couldn't find another hot shooter. Grevey finished with 12 but had only two after the half and none in the fourth. Larry Wright wound up with 11, the same as Tom Henderson, who also had 11 assists before fouling out.
No Bullet could handle Furlow, the third-year man from Michigan State. He shot over Charles Johnson in the second quarter, then worked on Grevey and Henderson in the second half, including six points midway through the fourth that helped build Atlanta's nine-point bulge.
"We kept going to Furlow," said Atlanta Coach Hubie Brown. "He was hot. He's not known for it but he can pass too. He finds the free man or he makes the key shot.
"McMillen was keeping the ball alive early. He kept us in the game. I kept telling our guys we had missed some inside shots early. Once we started getting our second shots in, we came back. We started striking fast and didn't get into a set-up game with them."
Atlanta again dominated the backboards against the league's best rebounding team, 48-38. The Hawks had five more offensive rebounds as they continued to beat Washington to almost every loose ball.
But despite all their deficiencies, the Bullets came close to at least forcing an overtime. Once the Hawks got into a pressure situation down the stretch, their shooting collapsed and that was all Washington needed to rally.
Atlanta's final field goal of the game came with 4:08 left on a Roundfield drive to make it 103-96. The Hawks then missed their next six attempts and had to be content with two free throws by McMillen until Dandridge's unsuccessful shots.
A Mitch Kupchak layup off a Dandridge pass got Washington started. Following McMillen's foul shots, Dandridge sank a pair of free throws and Charles Johnson stole the ball at midcourt and swished a jumper.
Furlow couldn't make a 15-footer and Hayes tied up Roundfield on the rebound. Hayes won the jump and the Bullets called time with 35 seconds to go. Dandridge had a shot blocked by Tree Rollins and then was fouled by McMillen in the ensuing scramble. He made one of two free throws to pull within 105-103.
The Hawks called a timeout with 16 seconds remaining. Roundfield caught the inbounds pass but was tied up again by Hayes. On the jump ball, Roundfield hit it on the way up, a violation, and the Bullets had possession with 24 seconds to.
Dandridge worked down to the right baseline against the taller Roundfield. He turned and tried a 12 footer, but Roundfield blocked it cleanly. Dandridge grabbed the ball and fired up a high-archer that took a slow, lazy path to the basket. It bounded around the rim and fell out and Rollins got the rebound. Henderson fouled Furlow, who wrapped up the triumph with two free throws.
"We got the shot we wanted," said Bullet Coach Dick Motta. "I even had a timeout left if he missed and we got the ball back. We could have set up another play." CAPTION: Picture, Steve Hawes of Hawks outreaches Bullet Mitch Kupchak for rebound of Bob Dandridge's missed free throw late in the game. Hawks held off Bullet rally to take a 107-103 decision. By Richard Darcey-The Washington Post