Michael Ray Richardson scored on a driving layup as the clock ran out then added a free throw to give the New York Knicks a 107-104 victory over the Washington Bullets last night at Capital Centre.
The Bullets, who have now lost six of their last eight games, made up a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes. Kevin Grevey's layup with 14 seconds remaining tied the score at 104-104.
The Knicks called a timeout and came out with a play designed for center Bill Cartwright to shoot. The Bullets were thinking the same thing, though, and defensed Cartwright. That left Richardson to go one-on-one against former teammate Jim Cleamons, whom the Bullets acquired Tuesday.
With three seconds, left, Richardson started a drive to his left toward the baseline, and as he was fouled by Cleamons, laid up a difficult shot with his right hand. It hung on the rim for a second and fell through as the horn sounded.
Richardson then made the free throw to account for the three-point margin of victory. $"I just didn't want to let him go back down the middle," Cleamons said. "It was just a good move by him. I was hoping someone would step out on him along the baseline and draw a charge or something, but it just didn't work out this time."
Cleamons made an impressive debut as a Bullet. He played the final 13 minutes as the playmaker. He didn't score any points or commit any turnovers while playing superb defense.
His guard mate usually was Grevey, who was activated earlier in the afternoon after being on the injured list more than a month with a torn hamstring muscle.
Grevey played a surprising 24 minutes and led the Bullets with 29 points, 13 of them in the fourth quarter.
A three-point shot by Grevey with 1:24 left cut the lead to 102-99, but Richardson countered with a 20-footer 21 seconds later to get the lead back to five points.
After a traveling violation was called on Ray Williams, Bob Dandridge was fouled by Hollis Copeland with 44 seconds to play. Knick Coach Red Holzman protested and was charged with a technical foul.
Dandridge sank all three fould shots to cut the lead to 104-102.
Sly williams, playing only because three other Knick forwards, Larry Demic, Toby Knight and Joe C. Meriweather had fouled out, then missed a short jumper and Mitch Kupchak rebounded it for the Bullets.
Grevey got behind the defense and scored on the layup that tied the score and set the stage for Richardson's game winning basket.
Cartwright, the Knick 7-foot rookie finished with 25 points, 14 of them in the final period.Williams, who scored in every way imaginable, also had 25, while Richardson finished with 16.
"We made a nice comeback," said Bullet Coach Dick Motta, "but we should never have been down that much to start."
Motta said he planned to start Cleamons in the fourth quarter and go with him as long as he did well.
"He played well, so I left him in," Motta said. "I think Kevin gave us a real spark in the enthusisam department," Motta added. "I just hope we didn't use him too much."
Grevey, who said he felt fine afterwards, was working very hard on defense, running at full speed all night.
"I wasn't thinking too much about offense," Grevey said. "I just wanted to run the court and get everyone going. All I wanted to do was come off the bench and help."
Despite the loss, which dropped the Bullets to 10-13, Motta was encouraged.
"I think we're going to be okay now," he said. "Kevin is back and Mitch is starting to look like he's really ready. I don't want the other people to feel threatened or anything, but Cleamons really played well. He has a presence with the ball and he can really play defense. He's a player. We're going to be all right with him."