Kevin Grevey, who came off the injured list Wednesday, hit a 20-foot jump shot as the final buzzer sounded last night to give the Washington Bullets a much needed 96-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks before 14,139 at Capital Center.
Grevey, who led the bullets with 19 points, took an inbounds pass from Wes Unseld in the left corner with three seconds left. He dribbled to his right, eluding Armond Hill, and then let fly.
The victory celebration at midcourt with his teammates hugging Grevey and jumping up and down was as much emotion as the bullets have shown all season and the way they won was particularly pleasing to Coach Dick Motta.
The Bullets fought back from a 12-point deficit to take a five-point lead with 3:24 to play, only to see the game apparently slip away from them when Atlanta's Tom McMillen made a 22-foot jumper from in front to give his team a 95-94 lead with three seconds remaining.
The Bullets called an immediate timeout to get the ball at midcourt.
The play Motta called was designed for Grevey to take the shot.
"We were going to go to Kevin primarily and if he wasn't open, we were going to Bobby (Dandridge) on top," Motta said.
"Kevin took a dribble, got his feet under him good and then shot the hell out of it."
"The play was designed for me to take the shot in the corner," said Grevey, who has now scored 48 points in the two games he has played in since coming off the injured list. "I faked off Jim Cleamons at the top of the key and then wheeled down the lane and ran my man, Armond Hill, off Mitch Kupchak. Mitch set a good pick and freed me just long enough to get the ball from Wes. That gave me three seconds to either drive or shoot.
"When it left my hands I knew it was good," Grevey added.
The Bullets were down by 12 points, 69-57, with 4:54 left in the third period, when they came alive. They outscored the Hawks, 15-2, the remainder of the quarter to take a 72-71 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Cleamons had four points and Unseld five in that spurt.
Elvin Hayes made one of two free throws with 3:07 remaining to give the Bullets a 90-85 lead. But John Drew, who led Atlanta with 22 points, made two free throws to cut the Bullet lead to 90-87 with 2:52 to play.
The Hawks are one of the NBA's better pressing teams and after Drew's free throws threw a full-court press at the Bullets.
Drew stole Dandridge's inbounds pass and stuffed it to cut the lead to one point.
The Bullets couldn't score on their next possission and Hayes was called for a loose ball foul. Dan Roundfiled made one of two free throws to tie the score at 90-90 with 2:20 left.
Cleamons, who played 30 minutes and made five of six shots last night, hit a 17-foot jumper to give the Bullets a 92-90 lead with two minutes to play.
The Hawks had three chances to score on their next possession with Tree Rollins finally grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring as Hayes fouled him. He completed the three-point play for a 93-92 Atlanta lead with 1:40 left.
Kupchak missed a shot on the Bullet's next possession, but got Dan Roundfield to commit an offensive foul at the other end of the floor to get the ball back.
Dandridge hit a baseline jumper to regain the lead for the Bullets at 94-93 with 47 seconds remaining.
Drew missed for Atlanta and then Dandridge missed for the Bullets to set the stage for McMillen's basket, with three seconds left.
The victory was the third in the last nine Bullet games, but they withstood the pressure defense and controlled the boards when they needed to. Washington outrebounded Atlanta, 50-38.
Hayes, who scored 15 points, also had 15 rebounds and blocked five shots.
Unseld scored 17 for the Bullets as he made seven of 10 shots from the field.
The Hawks did themselves in at the foul line as they were successful on only 21 of 37 attempts.
Perhaps the Bullets' most impressive display of strength came late in the fourth quarter when they were nursing an 89-85 lead. Hill had a layup attempt that was blocked by Kupchak. The ball went to Steve Hawes who tried to shoot over Hayes and that, too, was blocked. Drew grabbed that miss and his shot was blocked by Hayes as Drew committed an offensive foul.
For the game, the Bullets blocked 15 shots.