The Bullets found their missing game last night and snapped their losing streak at two by topping the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital Centre, 114-105.
Elvin Hayes controlled matters early and Bob Dandridge took over last as Washington beat the scrappy Cavaliers with inside strength.
Dandridge had a season-high 31 points, 25 in the second half. Hayes scored 19 in the first half, 27 in all.
"We're starting to get in the groove now," Hayes said.
The Bullets (3-5) appeared to play as well as they have at any time this season early in the game and moved to a 17-point lead. By the third period, it evaporated.
"We really needed this game," Hayes said, "and we started right out playing good. We relaxed a bit when we got that big lead, but we had that additional thrust when we needed it. Last week we would have lost this game." a
The Bullets injury problems continued to mount, however, as both Kevin Grevey and Roger Phegley had to leave the action.
Phegley has a sprained ankle, but he said he expects to be able to play Saturday against the Boston Celtics here.
Grevey, who missed the last two games with a pulled hamstring muscle in his right leg, pulled the other hamstring last night and his availability is more in question.
Cleveland is one of the NBA's more "fun" teams to watch.
The Cavaliers race down the floor and throw the ball up without fooling around with too many plays. That works for them because they have those racehorse-type players who are good jump shooters.
Campy Russell, Randy Smith and Kenny Carr posted 22 points each.
Russell garnered 16 of his points in the first half and banged in two more long jumpers early in the third period. Them Smith took over with seven straight points to get the Cavaliers within a point. Russell banked in a 22-footer and Smith scored again on a bomb to put Cleveland ahead, 80-77.
The rest of the game was Dandridge's.
He scored 19 of the Bullets' next 29 points to earn them a six-point lead at 104-98 with five minutes to play. The Cavaliers could not recover.
Dandridge did most of his stuff along the left baseline. He fouled Mike Mitchell out of the game and had Carr and Russell in foul trouble, too, trying to keep up with him.
With Grevey and Phegley in the dressing room nursing their injuries and Phil Chenier tiring, Coach Dick Motta turned to Gus Bailey. The first-year Bullet but savvy pro ran the offense and played good defense much of the final quarter to help seal the outcome.
The seldom used Bailey, who signed with the Bullets as a free agent in the offseason, has been used sparingly here, but he provided a big lift.
Bailey played 14 minutes, including the last 10 when the game was on the line. He played as both the shooting guard and as the playmaker. He scored six points and had seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Most important, Bailey did not commit a turnover.
"I think Gus did a heck of a job," Motta said. "He ran the offense well and he played defense. That's why we kept him in down at the end. He was doing just what we wanted him to do."
"I'm here to help the team and I'll do whatever I can," Bailey said.
"We threw the ball away a lot tonight," Motta said, referring to his team's 24 turnovers, "but we got the ball inside to Bobby and E and that's our game."
"When Bobby and I score this much, we'll win. Our game is getting the ball inside to us and tonight we just did it better than we have in the past. I think we're going to be all right now."