Lloyd Free, who wants to be known as just plain World from now on, turned in another All-World performance last night in leading the Golden State Warriors to a 103-97 victory over the error-prone Bullets.
Free scored 32 points and had seven assists and two steals as the Warriors, who won only 24 games last season, improved to 12-6. Last night's victory at Capital Centre was only their second on the road, however. nThey are 10-0 at home.
Free's guard mate, former Maryland star John Lucas, scored a season high 23 points and had six assists and six steals.
The Warriors jumped to a 16-4 lead and never trailed, leading by as many as 18 points, as the Bullets, who had won four straight at home, struggled.
Bullet Coach Gene Shue, who coached Free in both Philadelphia and San Diego, said the performance last night was typical Free.
"He had a regular Lloyd Free game," Shue said. "He didn't do anything that I haven't seen him do before. He's a great offensive player and there's no way you're going to stop him."
Free said his new goal is to prove that he can be an all-around player and not just a scorer. "I think I did that tonight," he said.
Free's most impressive stretch came late in the second period. The Bullets had just cut an 11-point lead to 40-37 with 4:10 to play.
He first hit a 17-footer over Kevin Porter and appeared to jump 20 feet before releasing it. He followed that with a 22-footer as Porter fouled him. He converted the three point play and then fed Rickey Brown for a layup and the Warrior lead was back to a safe 10 points.
Everytime the Bullets rallied, the Warriors were waiting to cut them off.
Free would hit a rainmaker, Lucas would throw up an off-balance running left-hander that would somehow find its way to the basket or rookie sensation Larry Smith would get a rebound and stuff it back in.
The Bullets' final charge came in the game's final minute.
A three point basket by Kevin Grevey, who led Washington with 25 points, a Grevey 18-footer and a pair of Grevey free throws cut the Golden State lead to 99-96 with 45 seconds remaining. But Free fed Bernard King for a fast break layup and after Greg Ballard missed a three point field goal attempt, Lucas made two free throws to wrap it up.
"I didn't have a whole lot of fun coaching last year," said Warrior Coach Al Attles, "but I'm having a heck of a good time this year. I can run along the sidelines and yell and scream and people listen.
"We got the big early lead and then didn't excite as well later. When things started going bad, we had a tendency to just say, 'Let's let World do it,' and we stood around."
Lucas was pumped up from the beginning; after scoring the Warriors' first two baskets, he thrust a clench fist upward and yelled, "Yes!"
"Luke had me doing some walking around and looking at the ceiling with some of the shots he was taking," said Attles, "but they were going in, so what could I say?"
Rookie Wes Mathews had all sorts of problems guarding Lucas and running the Bullet offense, so Shue called on Porter early and he responded with his second straight outstanding game. Porter made five of nine shots and had 10 assists and two steals in 29 minutes and his play, compared to Matthews', is causing Shue to do some thinking about which one should be starting.