The Phoenix Suns, even without starting center Alvan Adams, dominated the mighty Seattle Supersonics tonight and came away with a tingling, 100-91 victory to even their Western Conference final playoff series at 2-2.
The suns opened the fourth period with a 12-0 scoring spurt while holding the sonics scoreless for the first 5:55 of the quarter to increase an 81-77 lead to 93-77.
Paul Westphal and reserve guard Ted McClain ignited that rally as the Suns fast break was clicking and their double-teaming, switiching defense frustrated the Sonics.
The Sonics, who had 31 turnovers in their loss to Phoenix Sunday, had 25 tonight.
Even without Adams and with 6-7 Joel Kramer in his place the Suns beat the burly Sonics on the boards, 49-70. Without their usual board strength, the Sonics were dead.
Walter Davis led the Suns with 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Westphal added 21 points and 10 assists.
Another indication of how well the Suns played tonight was seen in the assist column. They had 30 compared to 14 for Seattle.
"It's easy to defend against a dribble, but difficult to defend against a sharp passing attack," Phoenix coach John Macleod said.
"We're getting much more aggressive on the defensive boards, too, as the series progresses."
MacLeod's counterpart, Lenny Wilkens of Seattle, said part of his team's problem was that his players stood around waiting for calls to go their way instead of hustling down court on defense.
The Suns appeared to have a perfect game plan to offset Adams' absence. MacLeod went to his bench early and often and every player who was dressed had scored at least one point by halftime. The Suns kept sending in fresh people and they double-teamed the ball and ran a full-court press and simply wore down the bigger Sonics.
By controlling the rebounding, they were also able to fast break, and whenever Davis or Westphal got out in front, there was no catching them.
The Suns' tactics caught the Sonics by surprise early as they sped to a 15-point lead with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
Lonnie Shelton asserted himself for the Sonics the rest of the quarter and scored seven points to get Seattle back into the game. The Sonics were down by only eight at intermission.
They started creeping up in the third period and finally tied the score with 6:58 left in the period.
Shelton gave the Sonics a 69-67 lead with a tap-in a minute later.
Westphal tied it with a base-line jumper and then Davis scored on two straight fast breads, and the Suns were off again.
Davis scored 13 points in the quarter and Phoenix took an 81-77 lead into the final period, the first six minutes of which were a nightmare for the Sonics. They missed their first seven shots and looked like walruses out of water. They threw the ball away and then tried vainly to catch the fleet Suns.
Phoenix sensed the kill and kept on running. Westphal and McClain combined for 11 of the points in a 12-0 spurt.
Seattle's first points of the period came with 6:05 left. Johnny Johnson made a short jumper, but by that time the Suns were long gone and they milked the clock for their second straight victory in the series.
Gus Williams once again led the Sonics, with 22 points, and Dennis Jonnson added 21.