"'Ice' had just begun to take over the game. This was a do-or-die situation for us and this was no time to think about extra duties," Bullet forward Bobby Dandridge told the postgame interview throng.
The lithe Dandridge emerged as clear-cut hero after finishing a 37-clear-cut hero after finishing a 37-point show with the shot that won the 107-105 seventh game of the Eastern Conference championship from San Antonio. But Dandridge's might effort to cool off Spur scoring ace George (Ice Man) Gervin in the final minutes of the game was equally vital.
Gervin, scoreless in the first period, worked the Bullet guards over for 38 points before Dandridge put the clamps on.
"Kevin (Grevey) was in foul trouble and he (Gervin) was on," said Dandridge. "Basically, I tried to front him and keep him from getting the ball."
The Spurs led, 92-85, when Dandridge went to work against the 6-foot-7 Spur. Gervin's first shot with Dandridge's hand in his face banged wildly off the blackboard. His second shot caromed off the rim. His third try, coming off a Billy Paultz pick, rippled through the net.
The strategy was obvious. Dandridge, in addition to carrying his share of the load at the offensive end, would have to stop Gervin if the Bullets were to play another game.
Gervin, who totaled 42 points, would make only one more basket in the final 3:49.
"The move putting Dandridge on him worked this time," said Grevey, who left the game in pain after being elbowed by Gervin in the third period. "Just when it looked like we lost this game, we went to the right people and came back. Bobby just went to work and gave a great exhibition out there."
Dandridge poured in 13 points in the fourth period, principally, over a fustrated Larry Kenon.
"What can you say about Bobby D? He shot the ball with three people in his face," Bullet guard Larry Wright commented.
Wright and Spur muscleman Mark Oberding is the third quarter scuffled after the Bullet guard was upset over what he termed a "cheap shot on a foul."
"I'm a little guy and I thought that was a cheap shot on his part," said Wright, who despite being eight inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter charged after Oberding at the baseline. "He didn't have to hit me the way he did. That's why I went after him.""
Several players swarmed into the melee before Capital Centre officials and the referees quickly broke it up. No players were ejected.
Wright was not the only Bullet complaining about cheap shots. Tom Henderson, who got the benefit of a call in the waning minutes, said the call on Paultz was a good one.
"He got me pretty good. But I went down to make it look better," Henderson allowed. "He had hit me a couple of times earlier in the game. It was a good call."
But most of the jubilant Bullets preferred to talk about the Dandridge clinic. Each time the Bullets seemed one step from extinction, Dandridge, with a variety of hanging leaners and corner jump shots, would bring them back from the near-dead.
"At one point, I had my doubts about our chances. But I knew they (Spurs) were in the penalty foul situation and we kept our mental composure and kept playing," said Dandridge. "I thought tonight was a true characteristic of just what we can do."
With the score 105-105, everyone in the noisy Capital Centre knew who would take the final shot for Washington.
After Dandridge connected, would Gervin take the shot to lie the game? Dandridge, watching the smooth two-time NBA scoring king's every move, said he wasn't worried about Gervin getting the last shot.
"In past games, Gervin usually doesn't take the final shot. (James) Silas has been taking the last-second shots," Dandridge remembered.
Silas did take the final shot, and Elvin Hayes blocked it. The Bullets recovered and were home free.
Gervin asked about Dandridge's defense against him, said in the same unemotional manner as always, "talk to the winners."