The Washington Bullets finally turned in a respectable preseason showing last night as they bowled over the Atlanta Hawks, 97-91, in the nightcap of a Capital Centre doubleheader.
The Philadelphia 76ers had little trouble with the New Jersey Nets in the opener, 105-95.
Elvin Hayes scored 26 points and Wes Unseld and Dave Corzine had 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively, as the Bullets wore down the Hawks inside.
The victory was only the Bullets' second in six exhibition games. They will play the Hawks again tonight in Atlanta and conclude their preseason schedule against the 76ers in Pittsburgh Sunday night.
Last night's game marked the return here of Kevin Porter as a Bullet. He was traded to the Detroit Pistons five years ago and reacquired by the Bullets during the summer.
The 5-foot-10 playmaking guard drew the biggest cheers from the crowd of 8,732, but he did not have a particularly good game. He had eight assists, but made only two of six shots, committed seven turnovers, and fouled out in the third quarter.
"I have a lot of things to work on," Porter said. "I have to get into running the patterns a lot more. My main problem is that I like to gamble a lot and with this team I just don't have to do that."
This still was the Bullets' best performance this preseason. They ran the break well, they controlled the boards and they were able to withstand Atlanta's pressure defense.
"We played with a little more intensity, too," Coach Dick Motta said.
Last night also was the first time the Bullets' starting five of Unseld, Hayes, Bobby Dandrige, Porter and Roger Phegley, were on the floor at the same time. Either Hayes or Dandridge had been injured.
Dandridge had an off night, missing both his field goal attempts and grabbing only two rebounds.
Phegley had his best shooting night, making seven of 11 shots and scoring 16 points.
Greg Ballard scored 17 points.
Dan Roundfield and Eddie Johnson led Atlanta with 19 points each.
Hayes scored nine of the Bullets' first 13 points and they moved to a 13-10 lead.
The Hawks then exploded for 11 straight points, five of them by Johnson and took a 21-13 lead.
Phegley and Hayes got the Bullets back to within two points by the end of the period.
Corzine and Ballard started the second quarter and muscled the Bullets into a lead they never lost.
Ballard scored six points and Corzine four and the pair controlled the boards in the first five minutes of the period.
Kevin Grevey's three-point play with 6:12 left, gave the Bullets a 39-31 advantage.
They increased their lead to 13 points in the final quarter and then withstood Atlanta's final charge.
The Bullets' 50 percent shooting was their best of the preseason.
In the first game, Doug Collins made 11 of 15 shots on his way to 24 points in leading the 76ers to their easy victory. Philadelphia had a 20-point first-half lead and coasted in from there.
In other NBA games last night, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 105-95; the Boston Celtics knocked off the New York Knicks, 111-102; the Chicago Bulls whipped the Indiana Packers, 126-110; the Denver Nuggets beat the Golden State Warriors, 86-79; the Los Angeles Lakers upended the Phoenix Sun, 98-94, and the Portland Trail Blazers clipped the Seattle SuperSonics, 108-83.