Jim Cleamons' four free throws in the final eight seconds of double overtime tonight gave the Washington Bullets a 139-134 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Elvin Hayes scored nine Bullet points in the second extra session. A three-point basket by Dennis Johnson with 16 seconds to play had tied the game at 126-126 at the end of the first overtime.
This was the first meeting of the season between the defending champion Sonics came into the game as one of the league's hottest teams, having won three in a row and 24 of their last 30.
The Bullets, meanwhile, have been a major disappointment. They went into the game having lost 13 of their last 20 and were at a season-low five games below .500.
The game was the second of four in five-nights on a western swing that will continue Friday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors and end Saturday in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz.
Wes Unseld scored four points in the first three minutes and the Bullets sped to a quick 10-2 lead, forcing Seattle to call an early timeout to regroup.
It helped as the Sonics got back in the game by getting the ball inside to guard Dennis Johnson who was taking Kevin Grevey low. A 16-footer and a free throw by Johnson got the Sonics to within four points at 18-14 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
Elvin Hayes scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game and his turnaround jumper on Paul Silas gave the Bullets a 24-16 lead. But on Seattle's next possession, Hayes got caught grabbing Jack Sikma for his third personal foul and he left the game in favor of Mitch Kupchak.
Bob Dandridge picked up the scoring slack, though, hitting a 15-footer and, then, after an Unseld hook shot, scored on a fast break to give the Bullets an 11-point lead at 30-19 with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
Jack Sikma scored at the end of the period to get the Sonics to within nine points.
Seattle began the second quarter with a 10-2 scoring spurt, six of them by Dennis Johnson, to cut the Bullet lead to a point at 32-31.
The Bullets called time and came back with five points in a row off a three-point play by Kevin Grevey and a 17-footer by Hayes.
Then Roger Phegley took over and in one stretch of the quarter, he scored nine straight Bullet points and propelled them to a 12 point lead at 50-38.
Included in Phegley's points was a three-point field goal from the corner off an inbounds play.
The Bullets increased their lead to 14 points at 52-38 on a tap-in by Unseld, but Seattle came back with the game's next 10 points to out the lead to 52-48. John Johnson and Tom LaGarde each had four points in that Seattle spurt as the Sonics' press gave the Bullets fits.
Unseld ended the Seattle streak with a perfect pass from Kevin Porter and Phegley drilled in a 22-footer to get the Bullet lead back to eight points.
Dennis Johnson scored a layup after taking a slick behind-the-back pass from John Johnson for the half's final points and the bullets led at intermission, 56-50.
Phegley had 11 points in the second quarter and made five of six shots.
Hayes and Unseld led the Bullets scorers at halftime with 12 points each, while Dennis Johnson was the only Sonic in double figures with 15.
Unsled added nine rebounds and four assists in the half to lead both teams in both of those departments.
Hayes picked up his fourth foul 15 seconds into the third quarter, but remained in the game and scored five straight points early in the quarter to keep the Bullets ahead. The Sonics cut the lead to one point several times, but each time the Bullets managed to hold them off.
Twice, Unseld tap-ins kept the Bullets ahead. Finally, for Seattle, a John Johnson basket and a 20-footer by Gus Williams tied the score at 76-76 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Back-to-back Kupchak layups put the Bullets ahead, 89-83, with less than two minutes left in the quarter.
Kupchak ended the period with another layup after a nifty move around Tom LaGarde, to give the Bullets a 93-85 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
A three-point play by Jim Cleamons two mintues into the fourth quarter gave the Bullets a 100-89 lead.
Seattle cut the lead back to seven, but two free throws by Phegley and two by Unseld got the advantage back to 11 with seven minutes to play.
The Sonics made an incredible fourth quarter comeback and a Sikma jumper with 30 seconds left tied the score, 116-116, sending the game into overtime.
Fred Brown scored 11 points in the final six minutes of regulation to lead the Seattle comeback. The Sonics were down by 11 with 5:35 to play.