The Washington Bullets took out two weeks worth of frustration on the Denver Nuggets tonight with a dominating 128-111 victory at McNichols Arena.
Kevin Grevey, Greg Ballard and Elvin Hayes combined for 86 points as the Bullets snapped a four-game losing streak and won for only the fourth time in the last 15 games, and for the first time since Jan. 30.
Grevey scored a season-high 32 points and added a season-high eight assists while Ballard and Hayes each contributed 27 points.
The Bullets ran their fast break to perfection, moved the ball crisply on their half-court offense and were intimidating at both ends of the floor. Ballard, Hayes and Unseld combined for 41 of the team 49 rebounds.
"We're just physically more powerful up front then Denver," said Bullet Coach Dick Motta. "E and Greg were awfully tough inside and Kevin loosened them up from outside."
Grevey, who had scored 18, 21 and 23 points in the three previous games, generated a lot of the Bullets offense tonight by his perpetual motion.
Even when he didn't have a lot Grevey was making something happen either with an assist, a pick or a more that allowed someone else to get in scoring position.
"I think Kevin has found himself now," said Motta. "He's put three or four good games together. When was the last time he did that?"
"I'm playing the best I have this year," Grevey said. "That's because I'm healthy and I know I won't be jerked around in the lineup if I miss a few shots. I feel I know my place on this club and my confidence is real high right now."
Grevey made 10 of 18 shots from the field, including two of three-point shots.
Ballard was even deadier, as he made 12 of 16 shots.
The best illustration of how well the Bullets moved the ball tonight could be seen in the assist column They had 40, their second highest totalof the season. Unseld had 10 to go with his 16 rebounds, Grevey and Jim Cleamons each had eight and Ballard had six assists.
Ballard and Grevey each scored 13 points in the first quarter as the Bullets took a 34-25 lead ad never fell behind after that point.
The Bullets finally blew the game open midway through the third period when Grevey and Ballard led them on an 11-2 scoring spurt that expanded an 11-point lead to an 80-60 advantage with seven minutes left in the quarter.
That's when Hayes got hot, scoring 12 fo the Bullets' last 14 points in the period, as they took a 94-77 lead into the final quarter.
The Nuggets tried to rally, but the closest they got, after an 8-2 spurt, was 15 points. Grevey connected on his second three-point shot of the night at that point and that took care of the Nuggets.
The Bullets were bolstered by the return of Bob Dandridge, who had missed the three previous games with a pulled calf muscle.
Dandridge played 21 minutes as a reserve tonight, making three of 11 shots.
"It didn't give me too much trouble," Dandridge said of his injury. "The key, though, is to see if I can go on it two consecutive games without it hurting. I won't know that until tomorrow, though."
The Bullets will play the San Diego Clippers Wednesday night (WDCA-TV20, 10:30 p.m.).
Motta said he will continue to use Dandridge off the bench to back up Ballard.
The Nuggets, who had won three in a row, played without David Thompson, their second leading scorer with a 21.5 average, who is still inactive because of strained foot ligaments.
Dan Issel and Alex English each has 25 points to lead the Nuggets.
Tonight's victory still leaves the Bullets 3 1/3 games behind the New York Knicks for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bullets, 24-32, have 26 games remaining.