The Washington Bullets made it look easy again last night as they buried the hapless Detroit Pistons, 114-88, at Capital Centre for their third straight victory.
The Bullets showed that they can play badly and still win. They turned the ball over on their first five possessions and committed 24 turnovers. They were not sharp, but shot well, and when they needed a boost, someone was there to give it -- usually Elvin Hayes, who scored a season-high 29 points, converting 12 of 16 shots. He also had 12 rebounds and blocked five shots.
Reserve Kevin Porter scored 18 points and had six assists as the Bullets (5-9) had another good shooting night, making 53 percent from the floor, the poorest shooting game they've had during a winning streak that has included margins of victory of 24, 21 and 26 points, respectively.
Kevin Grevey, league leader in three-point shots, made one for the eighth straight game and finished with 14 points. But much of the attention last night was focused on 6-foot-5 rookie Carlos Terry, a free agent from Winston-Salem. In 27 minutes at small forward, Terry scored 12 points and had nine rebounds, four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
In 15 minutes, against Dallas Thursday, he had eight rebounds, two points and six assists. Against Atlanta Tuesday, in 14 minutes, he had five assists, four rebounds and five points.
Terry has had more playing time recently because of Bob Dandridge's knee injury. Greg Ballard has been moved into the starting lineup and Terry has become Ballard's backup.
Now that the Bullets have Austin Carr, Coach Gene Shue will use Terry exclusively at forward after having given him time at shooting guard. That decision is fine with Terry.
"I'd rather play forward because at guard I have to get back on defense and I like to stay in and rebound. I love that contact under the boards. I like to play down low where I can beat on people."
"He's playing so well that I have to get him minutes," Shue said. "He is just a talented player. He makes the big plays, gets big rebounds and blocks shots. He's also a willing learner and he's always played well whenever he's been given a chance. Everyone on the staff has liked him from the beginning."
The Bullets overcame their early turnovers last night and outscored Detroit, 12-2, midway through the first period to take a 20-12 lead. They were never threatened after that.
Hayes, who has averaged 25.6 points a game the last three games, had eight of those 12 points on two free throws, two dunks and a long jump shot.
Greg Kelser was high for Detroit with 20 points and John Long had 19, although he missed 13 of 19 shots from the field.
The Pistons shot 37 percent.