It didn't take Lawrence Boston long to show the Bullets that he may be just what they need in their drive to make the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Boston, signed to a 10-day Bullet contract Saturday, made a smashing debut against the Indiana Pacers yesterday at Capital Center with a 14-point, 12-rebound effort in 18 minutes as the Bullets bet the Pacers, 118-104.
"He just has nose for the ball," Coach Dick Motta said of the 23-year-old Boston. "If he can just give us five or six minutes a half like he did today, he'll really help us."
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Boston was a fourth-round draft choice of the Bullets in 1978 out of the University of Maryland.
He was waived before the season started and ended up playing in Italy. He was playing for Rochester of the Continental Basketball Association when Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry called him Friday night to replace Mitch Kupchak, who was put on the injured list with a sore back.
"I plan on playing like this everytime he (Motta) calls on me," boston said. "he told me all he wanted me to do was rebound. We've got all of the shooters we need."
Elvin Hayes and John Williamson were the primary shooters Yesterday. Hayes scored 34 points to go with his 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots and williamson scored 22 points.
The victory was the Bullets' fifth in their last six games and their fifth straight at home.
It also enabled them to move a step closer to the playoffs. They are now virtually tied with indiana for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. Only six teams make it to the playoffs, but the three teams just above the Bullets -- New York. Houston and San Antonio -- are struggling right now.
If we keep playing like we have been, everything will take care of itself," said center Wes Unseld.
The Bullets used a big third quarter in which they outscored the Pacers, 31-19, to seal yesterday's victory.
Boston and Williamson combined for 16 of the Bullets' final 20 points in the quarter to help them from a 58-55 halftime deficit to an 86-77 lead going into the final quarter.
Boston had 10 points and six rebounds, four off the offensive boards, in the third period.
He entered the game for Hayes with 7:23 left in the period and the Bullets down, 66-64. Boston quickly made a 16-foot jump shot and was then fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound on the Bullet's next possession. He made the two foul shots and then put in another offensive rebound 30 seconds later.
Boston finished his third-period scoring with a layup after grabbing yet another offensive rebound.
The snow kept the crowd down to a season-low 5,711, but they were all boisterous, especially for the newcomer Boston and for Williamson.
Williamson had 16 points in the second half and, in one stretch of the fourth period, had eight straight points to get the Bullets to a 99-82 advantage.
Three of those Williamson baskets were from 20 feet or farther and one of them was almost unbelievable.
Williamson ran behind a hayes pick to the left corner where he took a pass from Unseld while on the dead run. He caught the ball, turned and fired, from 22 feet, seemingly without even looking at the basket. The result: swish.
"My teammates have given me the confidence to shoot so I shoot it," Williamson said.
the Bullets started by missing their first seven shots, but they never panicked and eventually settled down.
The Pacers got 24 points from Billy Knight and 21 from Mickey Johnson but still lost for the fourth straight time.
The Bullet playmakers, Kevin Porter and Jim Cleamons combined for 20 assists, 11 by Cleamons.
Most of the excitement, however, was over Boston's performance.
"I liked him before, even when we didn't have room for him," Motta said.
Boston's board work helped the Bullets to a 57-32 rebounding edge over the Pacers.
Boston's effort yesterday, at both center and forward, limited Dave Corzine's time to a scant two minutes.
Part of the appeal of Boston is that he is strong, mobile and versatile enough to play any of the front-court positions.
"It's still not a stable situation here for me," Boston added. "I only signed a 10-day contract, so I have nine days left on it. All I can do is play real hard and see what happens. I guess it all depends on Mitch."
Kupchak, who said he has inflammation of the nerve in the area where he had back surgery this summer, said his injury isn't serious.
(The doctor said to give it complete rest until the inflammation goes down." Kupchak said. "That could be a couple of days or a week or two."
Kupchak must miss a minimum of five games.If he cannot play after five games, Boston could be signed to another 10-day contract or signed for the remainder of the season. There is no maximum amount of time Kupchak may stay on the injured list.