The Seattle SuperSonics are best known for their strength on the boards and their defense, but it is a little scoring machine named Gus Williams who has bailed them out of jam after jam in the NBA playoffs.
Williams was the Sonics' regular season scoring leader with a 19.2 average, but has really turned on the afterburners since then. He scored the winning basket in Sunday's 106-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns that forced the Western Conference fianl series to a seventh game Thursday at the Kingdome (WDVM-TV-9, 11:30 p.m.). That was just one of many outstanding performances for Williams over the last three weeks. In 11 play off games, he has avereaged 25.5 points per contest.
The Sonics, in particular Paul Silas, are already saying that the seventh game is history and Seattle will win it, but William has cautioned that, "Phoenix isn't going to lie down and die for us. We can't think we already have the game won."
After the Sonics won the first two games of this series, forward John Johnson said the Suns were dead and had already given it their best shot. Phoenix then won three straight and could have wrapped up the series at home last Sunday.
Silas doesn't think there's anything wrong with telling the world how confident he is. He doensn't care how the Suns take it.
"Sometimes we have a tendency to be too low-key," Silas said. "We say, 'Okay, we're going to go out and do it and then we'll do our talking.' But I think it's got to be a little bit of both, before and after.
"You have to be confident in what you can do.You have to motivate yourself to such a peak that you just fell nothing can stop you from your ultimate goal. And saying those things kind of reinforces it sometimes.
"You might be reluctant to say something because of what the other guy might think, but i don't care what he thinks. It's just a fact. We're going to win. Someone we'll find a way to do it."
The Suns aren't intimidated by the fast talk. "They (the Soncis) feel good right now, but they still have to play the game," said the Suns' Truck Robinson. "They still have to outscore us, put the ball in the hole."
Phoenix center Alvan Adams, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter of the third game and hasn't played since, practiced the last two days and Coach John MacLeod said Adams will play Thursday.
Keeping Seattle off the boards and containing Williams are the Suns' primary goals. Neither is an essay task. The Sonics have outrebounded the Suns, 297-243, and Williams has been the Sonics' most consistent offensive threat.
Williams, whose younger brother, Ray, plays for the New York Knicks, is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable players in the National Basketball Association with his balding head, high-top shoes laced around his ankles and tied in the back, socks with the "No. 1" painted on them and his George Gervin-like, off-the-shoulder jump shot.
Williams' biggest asset is his quickness. He uses it to penetrate a defense and he used it to pick up 2.1 steals a game this season, eighth best in the NBA.
"I'm just being me," Williams said.