Picture, Kevin Grevey of Bullets, right, slams into Armond Hill of Hawks in physical moment. Bullets rallied to 100-97 win. By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post
The Washington Bullets finally won a basketball game last night, but it was an uphill struggle all the way and they needed another incredible shooting performance by Roger Phegley to do it.
Phegley scored 11 fourth-quarter points and in one stretch had seven straight to bring the Bullets from sic down to one on top and on their way to a 100-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Capital Centre.
Phegley was in foul trouble much of the night and played only 23 minutes, but made nine of 13 shots and scored 19 points as the Bullets recorded their first victory in three tries this season.
The Bullets were down, 95-89, with 4:36 left in the game when Phegley took charge. He first hit an 18-footer and followed that with a 17-footer. Then, after a technical foul on Atlanta's John Drew, Phegley converted the technical and followed with a fancy baseline shot against Jack Givens, to give the Bullets a 96-95 lead with 2:50 left. They went on to score 11 straight points while Atlanta fell apart.
This was Phegley's second straight big scoring game. He had a career-high 35 points against the Knicks in New York Saturday.
"I was finding myself open quite a bit," Phegley said. "They were trapping half-court and zoning on the bvaseline and I was just floating to the open shot.
"That last shot gave us the lead was a set play for me to get a shot in the corner, but it wasn't there," Phegley added. "Wes (Unseld) came out and set a screen and that gaver me a driving lane."
Phegley drove to his left and then hung in the air like Elgin Baylor before letting go with a 12-footer that swished through.
The Bullets scored on a Phil Chenier fast break and an Elvin Hayes dunk off the fast break before Atlanta could score again.
The Hawk offense in the last four minutes was mainly missed shots followed by Unseld rebounds. The Bullet center had 18, rebounds, five in the last four minutes.
"Roger may have a home down there," Coach Dick Motta said referring to Phegley's playing forward. "Forward is his natural spot, but I still envision him as a guard. He can do both, though, kind of like Havlicek."
Phegley was pressed into forward duty again last night because Bob Dandridge has strained ligaments in his left foot and did not play. Greg Ballard, starting in his place, was charged with three fouls in the game's first four minutes.
Phegley too, got into foul trouble and Motta had to use Unseld, Kevin Grevey and Gus Bailey at the small forward spot before the game was over.
The Hawks exposed the Bullets' weakness in ball-handling. The Bullets are not very quick and the scrappy Hawks took advantage of that by pressing full court and double-teaming the ball whenever possible. That strategy worked for most of the game as the Hawks took a 15-point lead in the second quarter.They led by seven, 76-69, going into the last quarter.
The Bullets had 24 turnovers, twice as many as Atlanta and looked sluggish and complacent.
"I was very disappointed early," Motta said. "We weren't even throwing the ball at the right people. We just played horrible. We didn't have any movement.
"Here it is only the third game of the season and I'm using combinations I never dreamed of using. We're really scrambling out there. We have to clean up a lot of stuff."
Elvin Hayes led the Bullets with 24 points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. Grevey added 20 points, but it was Phegley's shooting and Unsled's play down the stretch that led the way.
In addition to his 1, rebounds, Unsled had eight assists.
"We were lucky to win," Unseld said. "We aren't playing well and we probably won't be for awhile. We're the same as we've always been. Even when we're playing bad, we still wear the other team down."
The Hawks did indeed wear down, except for Dan Roundfield. He made 11 of 16 shots and had 12 points in the fourth quarter. But while the Bullets were scoring their 11 unanswered fourth-quarter points, the Hawks were missing nine straight shots.
They still had a chance to win it, however, in possession with four seconds left.
They set up a three-point field goad attempt for Terry Furlow, but it was short at the buzzer.