The Washington Bullets came up with the kind of game Coach Gene Shue has been waiting for. They did everything right last night at Capital Centre in routing the Atlanta Hawks, 122-98.
"We played absolutely great," Shue said. "The difference was whenever we had an open shot, we made it."
Kevin Grevey led the way with 28 points and a career-high 10 assists. Greg Ballard had 24 points and Elvin Hayes 22.
"Everthing went right," Grevey said. "We didn't blow a lead, our shots went in and we kept the pressure on them. It was just the opposite of the way things have been going."
Ballard made his first start of the season for ailing Bob Dandridge and made nine of 12 shots, including his last seven in a row. He also had six rebounds and six assists before Shue rested him the entire fourth period.
Dandridge injured his knee in Saturday's game against the New York Knicks and didn't dress for last night's game. He is questionable for Thursday's game at Capital Centre against the Dallas Mavericks.
Guard John Williamson had a cold and didn't dress for the game either, but he is expected to be ready for Dallas.
That left the Bullets with only nine players in uniform, but it didn't matter. Everyone was on. The Bullets shot 57 percent for the game, their best shooting night of the season; their 122 points were their most in a game.
The Bullet victory snapped a five-game losing streak and improved them to 3-9 for the season. The Hawks (5-7) dropped their fourth in a row.
"Atlanta's whole game is based on pressure and we nullified that because we always made the shot." Shue said. "Ballard controlled John Drew and E (Hayes) negated Dan Roundfield. We never let Atlanta in the game."
Roundfield came into the game averaging 20.6 points and 14.2 rebounds, but scored only eight points and grabbed three rebounds last night. Atlanta was outrebounded, 43-25.
Drew was held to eight, far below his 16.9 average.
Guards Eddie Johnson and Charlie Criss led the Hawks with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
The Bullets never trailed after Grevey made a three-point play to give them an 8-7 lead. They led by as many as 28.
Ballard, who said he feels more comfortable starting, than coming off the bench, had 16 of his points and all six of his assists in the first half. His last assist was his best. He dived for a loose ball, got it and then, with two Hawks reaching for the ball and while he was sitting between the free throw line and the three-point shot circle, Ballard bounced a perfect 20-foot pass to Wes Unseld. Unseld put in an uncontested layup from under the basket as the buzzer sounded. That gave the Bullets a 63-52 halftime lead.
Rookie Carlos Terry also was impressive during the 14 minutes he played. He scored five points and had five assists, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
One of his blocks, against the 5-foot-8 Criss, sailed all the way to midcourt where Wes Matthews ran it down and turned it into a fast break dunk.
Matthews finished with 19 points, but he and Terry combined for 10 of the Bullets' 21 turnovers. On a night when everything else was clicking, however, those transgressions were overlooked.
"A blowout like this really helps our confidence," Grevey said. "Some people were starting to doubt Coach Shue's offense and I think this game may have made them believers."
A crowd of 5,625 sat passively much of the game, seemingly waiting for the Bullets to do something wrong. They didn't. They ended the third period with a 10-0 spurt to lead, 97-76, going into the final 12 minutes and didn't let up.