Julius (Dr. J) Erving greeted the Washington Bullets with a stunning 36-point, 17-rebound, six-assist performance last night to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 126-120 double-overtime victory in the Bullets' home opener.
A Capital Centre crows of 16,208 was treated to Erving being as spectacular as only he can. He was low-keyed through the first half, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds, but once the game was on the line, he took complete control with his scoring, rebounding and overall court presence. He led and the 76ers followed.
Kevin Greevey, who paced the Bullets with 19 points, started the second overtime period with an 18-foot jump shot to put the Bullets on top, 112-110. But Erving scored the game's next five points and the 76ers never lost the lead again.
Bobby Jones missed a baseline jump shot, but Erving soared to what appeared to be three feed over the rim and tapped the rebound down and in. Then, after a Mitch Kupchak turnover, Erving scored on a spinning move over Wes Unseld as Unseld fouled him.
That put the 76ers on top, 115-112, with 3:17 remaining.
Unseld had a fine 16-point, 15-rebound game, but the Bullets don't have a player of Erving's ability to take over and win a game when it is up for grabs. Unseld later fouled out. Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandrige had foulded out earlier. Hayes made only three of 15 shots for the night.
The Bullets didn't quit, even in the face of Erving's magic. A layup by Unseld and another by Wes Matthews brought the Bullets within a point with 2:30 left, but Doug Collins made a long jumper as Unseld was commiting his sixth foul on Darryl Dawkins. Dawkins made the ensuing free throw for a three-point play and the 76ers had a 120-116 lead with 2:15 left, and the Bullets were dead. They missed their next three shots.
The Bullets had golden opportunities to win the game both in regulation play and in the first overtime, but couldn't capitalize.
Dandridge made a 16-footer with 39 seconds left in regulation to put them on top, 98-96, but Erving rebounded a Dawkins miss and was fouled by Kevin Greevey with 27 seconds left. He made both free throws to tie the score.
The Bullets worked for the last shot, but Greevey's running 12-footer missed. Erving and Bobbby Jones knocked the rebound out of bounds with one second left. The Bullets got another good shot, but Hayes' turn-around 17-footer went in and out as the horn sounded.
The Bullets had a 109-108 lead and the ball with 49 seconds left in the first overtime, Dandridge missed a jumper with 24 seconds left, but Unseld grabbed the rebound. Lional Hollins intentionally fouled Kevin Porter with 17 seconds remaining, but the Bullet guard made only one of his two free throws for a 110-108 Bullet lead.
Dawkins, who scored nine of his 16 points in the two overtimes, muscled in a layup over Unseld with 10 seconds remaining to force the second overtime.
Both teams now have 1-1 records.
The 76ers lost guard Maurice Cheeks early in the second quarter. He complained of chest pains and was taken back to a Philadelphia hospital.
Three Bullets had 18 points; Dandridge, Kupchak and Porter. Porter also had nine assists while Kupchak added 11 rebounds.
With Cheeks out of action, Hollins took over to guide the 76er offense. He played 43 minutes, made seven of 11 shots from the field, five of five from the foul line and had a game-high 11 assists.