The Phoenix Suns made the Washington Bullets look like a bunch of blind mice caught in an inescapable maze last night as they beat them convincingly, 123-99, before 8,216 at Capital Centre.
The defeat was the Bullets' seventh in their last 10 games. They lacked any outward signs of enthusiasm and failed to display even the most elementary of basketball skills.
The Suns' Paul Westphal took advantage of Washington's stagnant play, contributing 27 points, seven assists, four steals and three blocked shots in 30 minutes of play.
The Suns, who had lost four straight going into the game, had five other players in double figures. Starting center Alvan Adams, who has a badly bruised foot, did not play.
"We started out good and then we just crumbled like an old cookie," Bullet Coach Dick Motta said.
"They were zoning us and we threw the ball right into the passing lanes and everything."
The score was tied, 16-16, midway throught the first period, before Phoenix took control.
Westphal had 10 points in the first quarter and the Suns led by seven. They opened the second period with a 14-3 scoring spurt that, in effect, subdued the Bullets for the remainder of the contest.
The Suns became complacent late in the quarter and the Bullets cut an 18-point lead to 12, 57-45, but the Suns stepped on the throttle again and scored the half's last eight points, to widen their advantage to 65-45.
In that Sun spurt, Westphal canned two poits by driving down the lane, switching the ball to his right hand, spinning completely around, 360 degrees, leaving his man, Kevin Grevey, clutching at air, as he made a layup.
The Bullets tried to hold the ball for the last shot of the half, but as Wes Unseld was looking for someone to pass to, Westphal came from his blind side and grabbed the ball away. He then drove in for a left-handed slam dunk at the buzzer.
The ambidextrous Westphal is probably the best one-on-one player in the NBA. Hs first basket came as a result of his defensive effort when he reached in and stole the ball from Grevey and drove in for a layup. Most of his other baskets were vintage Westphal, though, as he got the ball and went to the basket, usually spinning and double pumping on the way.
"We wanted to run and tonight we just went out and let fly," said Westphal. "The Bullets can't run with us as long as we keep them from annihilating us on the boards."
"Westphal played good defense and that opened up his offense," said Phoenix Coach John MacLeod. "We had been struggling the last four games, but we sure came out strong tonight."
The Suns mentioned a two-hour team meeting, without the coaches, in attendance following Saturday night's 117-96 loss to 76ers n Philadelphia, as a reason for tonight's improved play.
"We got a few thinks straight in that meeting," said Robinson, "and we came out ready to play tonight."
"We just passed the ball well and shot it well,' Robinson added. "We had four guys cutting down the lane and then on defense we never let them (the Bullets) get rolling. We cut them off inside."
Elvin Hayes led the Bullets with 19 points and Unseld had 17 rebounds, but 11 of them were in the first quarter.
The Bullets shot 38 percent from the field in the first half and only 40 percent for the game. The biggest problem was at the shooting guard spot, where Grevey and Roger Phegley made only four of 20 shots. Grevey was 3 for 14 and Phegley 1 for 6. Both had additional problems keeping up with Westphal.
The Bullets, whose record fell to 11-14, now face three road games in three nighs, which begins in Cleveland Thursday. They visit the Pacers in Indianapolis Friday and the Bulls in Chicago before returning home.