Many of the Washington Bullets are seething over what they feel is a considerable lack of class shown by the Atlanta Hawks in general and outspoken guard Terry Furlow in particular during the latter stages of this hotly contested Eastern Conference semifinal of the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Among the Bullets, who like to portray a cool image, there is growing resentment over what one player called "the cheap shots and unnecessary on-court celebrations" by the Hawks.
"I feel sorry for him," Bullet Coach Dick Motta said yesterday about Furlow, the Hawks' version of the Dallas Cowboys' Hollywood Henderson. "If you make your living in this game, you should be above that stuff he is pulling. I always try to consider the source before I react to what is said.
"Funny thing about these things, they always work out. I don't laugh in other people's faces when I celebrate.There is a way to win and a way to lose."
Furlow's comments evidently have generated interest among the Bullets' fans, also. In just two hours yesterday, they purchased the remaining 6,400 tickes for Sunday's liveliest box-office charges in Capital Centre history.
"Give Terry Furlow credit," said the Bullet general manager, Bob Ferry. "I think people want to see him."
With a sellout guaranteed, the game will be televised locally over WDVMTV-9. It will start at 3:45, not 1:30 as previously announced.
Kevin Grevey, who Furlow says is "lucky to be in the league," shrugged off his rival's more blatant badmouthing.
"Maybe that is his way of motivating himself," Grevey said. "But he has to back it up. How can he say that stuff? He hasn't been the reason they've won three games.
"He's been talking about Tom (Henderson) and me like we were a bunch of dogs. I think he will inspire us and the whole team Sunday. We want to win so badly to put these guys in their places.
"You shouldn't say these things; they are going to wake up a sleeping monster."
Furlow, however, has struck a Bullet sore point in this series, which Motta says has been so good "the winner will go on to take the championship." Furlow has bragged constantly about Atlanta's back-court superiority, yet the Bullet guards so far have not been able to shut him up with their play.
The Bullets need enough outside scoring to take the pressure off Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge inside. When only those two are producing most of the points, their team has problems. When one other player, especially a guard, joins in, Washington is difficult to beat.
But no Washington guard has had a hot hand since the Bullets won the fourth game. Then, Larry Wright pumped in 12 points the third quarter and Grevey had a couple of big overtime baskets.
Since, the guards have contributed only 58 points for Washington and none has scored more than 12 points in a game. For the series, the Hawks have gotten 42 points a game from their back court compared with 33 from Washington's. That does not take into consideration the many times Atlanta's guards have driven into the lane and passed off for assists.
The Bullet guards are shooting a dismal 33 percent in the six games, with Charles Johnson having made seven of 30 shots, Henderson 21 of 58 and Grevey 30 of 72.
"I really don't think Tommy and I have been playing that badly," Grevey said. "Our offense is geared inside and that's where the ball is going first, like it should.
"Their offense depends on their guards doing a lot of their scoring. That's how it was in the regular season. We know we have to produce in the last game. The whole team knows what it has to do. And I think we will."
Motta shied yesterday from analyzing his guard's play. Instead, he focused on what he called "trying to get us in synch" for the seventh game.
"This reminds me a lot of the Seattle series last year," he said. "The layoff hurt us before the start of the series and the injuries have, too. The Hawks are playing well as a team, which is one reason we've only had one good quarter in the whole series.
"But a lot of what we have done is predictable. When we won games three and four, we had a natural let-down, figuring we'd win game five at home. And I wasn't surprised by what happened in game six. Philadelphia beat us pretty good last year in the same circumstances, then we came back and won the series the next game."
This has not been an easy series for either Motta or his players to handle. They have not always agreed on tactics and he has had to alter his substitution patterns because of inconsistent performances from his usually reliable reserves.
In contrast, the Hawks have gone with 10 palyers every game, and almost everyone has played well. Altanta now is performing at near-peak efficiency; Washington still is struggling to reach that level.
Motta did ask his players yesterday to forget about the officiating Sunday and concentrate on the Hawks. The Bullets have become involved in an increasingly heated debate with the referees in the series and it has become a distraction.
"He told us that we weren't going to win (the arguments) so we should back off," said Grevey, "and he is right. The Hawks are tough enough without wasting energy on the refs. If we play our game, things should even off eventually."
The Bullets did not practice yesterday, instead watching films of the sixth game and discussing strategy for Sunday's contest. They will work out today . . . Only two teams in NBA history Los Angeles in 1970 and Boston in 1968, have come back from 3-1 to win a series; the Hawks are tyring to duplicate that feat. CAPTION: Picture, Steve Hawes of Hawks hacks Mitch Kupchak, without drawing foul, in fourth period. Kupchak left game. By Richard Darcev-The Washington Post