Before last night's game against the Detroit Pistons, Washington Bullet Coach Dick Motta went up to Kevin Porter and said, "Play your game."
Porter took the advice and, for the first time this season, showed some of the brilliance the Bullets have been waiting for. He handed out 20 assists in leading Washington to a much-needed 117-106 victory.
Porter had a season-high 13 points and committed only three turnovers as he directed his team to its best overall performance this season.
"It's about time," Porter said of his performance that had a Capital Centre crowd of 9,528 on its feet roaring approval much of the night.
"Coach had a talk with me last night (Friday) and told me I was losing a little of my intensity," Porter said. "I tried to go out tonight and show that I was the leader and I think it helped everybody.
"This team will listen to me if I lead them, but I was reluctant to just come in and take over."
With Porter running the show to perfection, the Bullets committed only 10 turnovers and were in control of the game from virtually the very beginning.
Kevin Grevey pulled a hamstring muscle in his left leg and took himself out of the game in the third quarter.
That opened the door for Phil Chenier and he reponded with another fine all-around game. He scored 18 points, some of them coming off difficult shots, and he had four assist and two steals.
But Bullets had eight players in double figures, led by Elvin Hayes' 23 points, and they had a whoping 37 assists.
Hayes and Greg Ballard each scored eight points in the first quarter to stake the Bullets to a 30-24 lead.
The Bullets put the game away in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Roger Phegley and Chenier.
Phegley scored eight straight points early in the quarter to give the Bullets a 42-28 lead.
Chenier contributed 10 points in the quarter.
The Bullets led by as many as 19 points in the third period. That came after Chenier drilled a 20-footer after a Porter pass found him all alone in the corner.
The Pistons were without Coach Dick Vitale, whose father had a heart attack Friday night. They looked disorganized much of the night and never really got into the game.
Vitale's assistants, Richie Adubato and Mike Abdenour, handled the team the best they could. The Pistons were also without Bob McAdoo, who has a pulled hamstring muscle.
Bob Lanier led last night with 31 points, 16 rebounds and five assists and guard James McElroy added 22 points and 10 assists.
The Bullet victory was only the second in five games this season, but it was by far the best overall performance, a 130-93 thumping at the hands of the Celtics in Boston.
"That game in Boston was hard for us to take," Porter said, "but we showed what type of club we are by bouncing back. We still aren't clicking as well as we can, yet. We'll get there, though."
Motta said he isn't worried about the team and that once his injured players get healthy, "We'll be okay. They know they're good, and they also know they weren't playing that good the last few games."
Bob Dandridge didn't play again because of his sore foot, and his replacement Ballard, is hobbling on a bad ankle. He played only 20 minutes.
Phegley had his consecutive free throw string broken at 22 when he missed his first attempt of the night . . .Unseld, who had 16 rebounds last night, said he forgot about the Boston game the minute it was over. . . The Bullets are off until Wednesday when they face the Pistons again, this time at the Silverdome. . . The Bullets hope Grevey will be ready by then.