The Washington Bullets, playing once again without the oft-injured Bob Dandridge, faded in the fourth quarter tonight and the Phoenix Suns raced by them, 116-104.
The Suns snapped a two-game Bullet winning streak and changed a confident team into a dejected one.
Dandridge missed the first three games of this seven-game trip with a pulled calf muscle. The Bullets lost all three.
Even though he wasn't completely healed, Dandridge joined the team in Denver Tuesday and helped beat the Nuggets that night and the San Diego Clippers the next evening.
Dandridge said he was kicked in the calf in the Denver game. He received treatment on the muscle today, but decided just before the team boarded the bus to the arena, that he couldn't play.
"We miss his points, his defense, and it throws off our substitution rotation," a rejected Coach Dick Motta said. "Not having him really takes a lot out of us. It really hurts our morale, too. We need him to win. I've said that before and it's still true."
Greg Ballard and Elvin Hayes led the Bullets with 23 points each and Kevin Grevey, playing some small forward as well as guard, added 20.
Former Bullet Truck Robinson led the Suns with 26 points; Paul Westpha Westphal had 21.
The score was tied six times and the lead changed sides 16 times in the first three qurters.
The Bullets had a big edge in muscle and used it to outrebound the Suns, 58-44, but the Suns are much quicker and their full-court press and fast-break offense eventually wore down the short-handed Bullets.
Mike Bratz made an 18-footer at the end of the third quarter to give the Suns an 82-78 lead going into the final 12 minutes, which Phoenix began with an 8-2 spurt to go up 90-80.The Bullets never made a serious charge after that.
Alvan Adams and Bratz each made two free throws and Walter Davis had back-to-back fast-break baskets in the 8-2 spurt.
Ballard, Hayes and Grevey all made three-point shorts in the fourth period, but the Suns scored on 18 of their 23 possessions in that quarter.
The Bullets, who now have lost 12 of their last 17 games, will have Saturday off before facing the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.
Dandridge said he would not play in that game, either.
"I'm just back to the beginning now," the forward said. "(team physician Stan) Lavine told me back in Washington that it could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. He told me if I felt pain to stop playing.
"When I went to Denver I wasn't healed, but Dr. Lavine said to go and try it and if it didn't feel alright, then to come back home. I came out to Denver to try and do whatever I could to help the team, but I can't to anything now. I just can't play on it.
"They (the Bullets) knew this could happen, so it shouldn't have been a shock to them. Dr. Lavine had talked to them before I came out (to Denver)."
John Williamson, who scored 23 points in 23 minutes to lead the Bullets in San Diego, could not save them tonight, although he did score 19 points.
Williamson made an incredible move against Don Buse late in the first half, bringing the Veterans Memorial Coliseum capacity crowd of 12,660 to its feet.
Williamson dribbled to his right, spun left, put the ball between his legs and made a fade-away left-handed hook shot.
The four other Bullet reserves, Mitch Kupchak, Kevin Porter, Dave Corzine and Larry Wright, could total only six points.