Kevin Grevey can cast off his hermit's robe and renew communications with the outside world.
"I hadn't had any fun lately, I hadn't smiled in 10 days," Grevey said after yesterday's 115-95 Bullet victory over San Antonio. "Now I'm rejuvenated. I feel like someone took a 10-ton weight off my shoulders."
Grevey's new-found equanimity came as the result of his performance in the second game of the series against the Spurs. The fourth-year guard ended a horrid, playoff-long shooting slump with 18 points, hitting eight of 14 shots.
That was in stark contrast to the nightmare Grevey earlier had experienced in the playoffs. He shot only 39 percent during the Atlanta series and sank only one of nine shots in the first game against San Antonio Friday night.
But yesterday he awoke to score 12 points in the decisive third period, when Washington came from four points back to take a nine-point lead.
"I'm a great shooter, I know that," Grevey said. "I kept telling myself, 'I'm Kevin Grevey, I'm a great player.' I just couldn't believe what was happening.
"Now I'm not going to relax, but I do have my confidence now and I feel good about the future. It's amazing what a jump shot or two can do."
Grevey, who admitted he had become "an expert on slumps," said he was just trying to get two or three layups. He got two on fast breaks during the third quarter, and also found the range for 14, 16- and 19-foot jumpers. His layup off a pass from Elvin Hayes late in that period gave the Bullets their biggest lead to that point, 80-71.
"I had disconnected the telephone, quit reading the newspapers and had problems sleeping," Grevey said. "Now guys will be calling me to find out how I broke out of the slump. But if I knew how I did it, I'd bottle it and sell it."
Both of Grevey's layups in the third quarter capped fast breaks initiated by Wes Unseld's outlet passes. It was the play off the bulky Bullet center that many Spurs said was the determining factor of the game.
Unseld's defensive rebounding helped speed up the Bullets' offense in the second half, but it was his offensive rebounding that put an even bigger dent in San Antonio's hopes of winning two straight. Ten of Unseld's 22 rebounds came at the offensive end.
"We've just got to block Wes out better," said Spur forward Larry Kenon. "Instead of waiting until he works his way underneath on the offensive end, we've got to get him at the key."
San Antonio center Mike Green conceded the effectiveness of Unseld's defensive rebounding but had a gripe with the officials in terms of the Bullet's offensive rebounding.
"Shoving is Wes' game," said Green. "They're going to let him do it because he gains respect in their eyes by playing for the world champions. The officials let him camp out underneath. But he's been camping on everyone else like that."
Spur Coach Doug Moe also said Unseld was helped by the officials.
"They let Unseld ride guys under the basket while calling us for three seconds when we stepped in the lane," Moe complained.
Washington held San Antonio to 42 points in the second half, largely because a more aggressive defense was trapping the Spurs' guards in the back court as well as contesting every shot the final 24 minutes. However, Green gave little credit to the Washington defense.
"They're no hell of a defensive team, you and I know that," Green said. "The trapping in the second half did not bother us. We were just missing shots. They might have been pushing us out farther than we normally shoot from, though.
"I'm no more worried than I was confident after the first game of the series. I know we lost to them last year when we held the home-court advantage. But just because they've got that trophy from last year means not one thing. They don't give medals to yesterday's heroes."