Elvin Hayes had a difficult time getting started against the Golden State Warriors yesterday so he asked to come out of the game " to get myself together."
When he returned, the all-star forward began scoring from every spot on the floor, leading the Bullets to an easy 116-107 victory before 10,306 at Capital Centre.
Hayes finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds. Incredibly, he started out by making only four of his first 16 shots, then made 11 of his last 13.
Bob Dandridge added 27 points and Wes Unseld was five for five from the field and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Bullet front line dominated the entire game against the NBA's second worst team.
"E and Bobby scored and Wes controlled everything inside," said Coach Dick Motta. "That's how we're supposed to play. We don't have to make the game as hard as we do sometimes."
The third quarter, especially, was vintage Bullets. Hayes, Dandridge and Unseld scored 31 of their team's 33 points in the period and they did it with simple, fundamental basketball.
The guards stayed outside, the big men ran picks for each other inside and the guards got the ball to the open man. Hayes had 16 points in the quarter, Dandridge 11 and Unseld four.
Larry Wright, who provided the quickness the Bullets needed to make their fast break go, had the other two Bullet points in the quarter. Wright scored 16 points in all and had 10 assists.
Still, the Bullets won inside, where the big boys make a living. Hayes, Dandridge and Unseld made 22 of their last 27 shots.
"When we get the ball upcourt quickly and force it inside we can beat anybody," said Hayes, who had 25 points against Boston Friday. "When we had our four-game winning streak we were doing that, but then all of a sudden we just stopped. The last couple of games we've gone back to doing it, though, and it's been the difference.
"I think we've found a little groove now," Hayes said. "I want to keep it."
The only NBA team that has won fewer games than the Warriors is Detroit, and yesterday it was easy to see why. The Warriors are not a smooth team, they have no muscle and their team defense is virtually nonexistent.
If not for Robert Parish, they would have never been close yesterday.
The 7-foot center scored 29 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had five blocked shots, four assists and three steals.
The Warriors, down 55-50, at the half, opened the third period with an 8-2 spurt to take a 58-57 lead. Then Hayes got going. Working against 6-10 Wayne Cooper, Hayes scored the Bullets' next nine points, moving them to a 66-61 lead.
The Bullets never trailed again, though the Warriors mounted several other threats.
The first came when back-to-back long jumpers by Purvis Short cut the Bullet lead to 72-71.
The Bullets responded with a scoring spurt to go on top by 10 at 83-73 with 1:44 left in the quarter.
Hayes started the rally with a layup and Dandridge followed with a three-point play. Cooper scored on an offensive rebound for Golden State, but then Unseld scored from inside, Wright got a steal and a fast-break basket and Hayes banged in a turnaround over Cooper. The Bullets had a 10-point lead.
They led by as many as 13 points in the final period, but the Warriors kept plugging away.
Sparked by two long Short jumpers, the Warriors closed to 112-105 with two minutes to play. They got the ball right back after the Bullets were called for a 24-second violation.
Phil Smith then missed on a driving layup and Hayes connected on an 18-footer to seal the victory.
The victory was the Bullets' second straight. After a day off today, they will play three games in three nights, starting, with the the Atlanta Hawks in the Omni Tuesday. They will play the Indiana Pacers Wednesday and the Boston Celtics Thursday in Capital Centre before time off for the All-Star Game.
"All I want to do is finish on an upbeat for the All-Star Game," Motta said. "At least then I can have a nice vacation."