Tuesday night, it was the Iceman and tonight it was the Doctor who stunned the Bullets with a breathtaking display of basketball ability.
Julius (Dr. J.) Erving glided to 40 points as the Philadelphia 76ers dumped the Bullets for the fifth straight time, this season, 105-98, at the Spectrum.
The defeat kept the Bullets in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind San Antonio and Houston, who are virtually tied for fifth place.
Only the top six teams in the conference will make it to the playoffs.
Gervin victimized the Bullets for 41 points at Capital Centre Tuesday to drop them to seventh place and Erving's 40 points tonight kept them there.
As exciting as both men are, Gervin's and Erving's games are not similar. Gervin is a deadeye shot who relies a great deal on his jumper.
Erving is a complete offensive magician who does most of his scoring in the wide-open spaces provided by fast breaks. He added five assists, four steals, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots to tonight's totals.
The victory, the 76ers' 14th in their last 16 games, kept them one game behind Boston in the race for the best record in the National Basketball Association.It may have been a costly win, however.
Guard Doug Collins, who was activated Feb. 13 after having foot surgery in December, injured his knee and may be out indefinitely.
"It just popped and started aching," Collins said of the second-quarter injury that occurred when he made a steal. He was helped to the dressing room and did not return.
"It's pretty serious and doesn't look good at all," said Coach Billy Cunningham.
Playmaker Maurice Cheeks, the 76ers' best guard, fell hard on his right wrist in the game and he, too, left in pain.
The seriousness of Cheeks' injury is not known but, like Collins, he will have x-rays taken Thursday.
The Bullets discovered that they probably can't depend on Bob Dandridge for much help the rest of the season.
Dandridge played an ineffective seven minutes in the first half, missing the three shots he took, and then told Coach Dick Motta that he couldn't play at all in the second half.
Dandridge has a calf injury and had missed 12 straight games before playing against the Spurs Tuesday.
"I just can't run on it," Dandridge said. "I can't cut or anything. It's painful. I'm going to have to stay off it and stop playing. I have to find some way to get it corrected."
Greg Ballard, in less dramatic fashion, was almost as effective as Erving.
He scored 32 points and had 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals. He isn't used to playing 40 minutes a night and it started to show late in the game when he tried.
The Bullets started fast.
Ballard, working Erving over outside, scored 12 first-quarter points and the Bullets eventually moved to a 15-point lead at 36-51, three minutes into the second period.
The 76ers then outscored the Bullets, 23-8, with Erving contributing 10 of the points, to tie the game at 44.
Erving had two impressive swoop layups where he appeared to change direction in midair after taking off at the foul line.
The Bullets regrouped enough to take a 52-38 halftime lead, but the third period was a disaster for them.
They had eight turnovers in the quarter and, in one stretch of nine possessions, they missed four shots and had five turnovers.
The 76ers, meanwhile, were scoring 10 straight points, four each by Erving and Cheeks, and the Bullets were never able to recover.
The Sixers had a four point lead at 67-63 when Erving made a three-point shot, stole a Larry Wright pass and fed Lionel Hollins for a fast-break layup and then, after a Bullet miss, banked in an 18-footer. That put Philadelphia on top by 11.
The 76ers expanded their lead to 17 points early in the fourth period.
The Bullets rallied behind Kevin Porter's 13 fourth-quarter points, but they never got closer than five points, and that was in the final two minutes, and was countered by four straight Philadelphia points.
"The third quarter killed us," said Motta. "We had a lot of silly turnovers and they got fast breaks out of every one of them.
"But, heck, they're a good team. They're so talented. We played as hard as we can. That's all I can ask."
Motta said he didn't know what would be done about Dandridge, but if he cannot play, he will undoubtedly be put on the injured list and the Bullets will try to sign someone who can at least give them a couple of minutes a game.
After a day off Thursday, the Bullets will host Houston Friday at Capital Centre.