The Washington Bullets traded turnover-prone rookie Wes Matthews to the Atlanta Hawks for talented rookie guard-forward Don Collins yesterday, then went out last night and celebrated with an impressive 103-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
The 6-foot-6 Collins, from Washington State, is expected to be in uniform when the Bullets play the New Jersey Nets at 1 o'clock today at Capital Centre.
The Bullets didn't need Collins or Matthews last night as they put the defensive clamps on George Gervin and got bi games from Elvin Hayes and Kevin Porter in rolling to their third straight victory, before 10,614 at Capital Centre.
Hayes had 27 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots while Porter scored 15 points in addition to 11 assists and three steals.
Mark Olberding was high for San Antonio with his National Basketball Association career-high 28 points.
Gervin, guarded mostly by Kevin Grevey and Austin Carr, was limited to 18 points as he made only eight of 21 shots. His guard mate, James Silas, made six of 22 shots as the Spurs, shooting 50 percent for the season, made only 39 percent against the Bullets.
Grevey scored 17 points in the first half but was taken to Bowie Medical Center to have his jaw X-rayed after he caught an accidental elbow from Olberding on the first possession of the second half.
The X-rays did not show a break, but Grevey will have more X-rays taken, as a precaution, today.
"We're doing phenomental right now," Coach Gene Shue said after the victory. "Everything we're doing is working. But that can change at any time."
The winning streak has come with a makeshift front line of Hayes at center and Greg Ballard and Anthony Roberts at forward because center Wes Unseld has tendinitis in his right knee.
In past games the Bullets have faded in the fourth period, but last night they kept the pressure on and it was the race-horse Spurs who couldn't keep up.
The score was tied at 81 going into the final 12 minutes.
Roberts got his only basket of the night on a 20-foot jump shot and, after a three-second violation against San Antonio, Hayes' turn-around jumper put the Bullets on top, 87-83, with nine minutes to play. The Spurs couldn't catch up.
The acquisition of Collins ends the Bullets season-long search for a high scoring, do-everything perimeter player. He feels comfortable in either the front court or the back court and can pass, handle the ball, rebound and shoot. He has the one-on-one offensive ability that the Bullets have needed so desperately.
The transaction was a straight one-for-one swap.
"With the injuries to Bobby (Dandridge) and Carlos (Terry), we felt we needed a player like Collins a lot more than we needed another small playmaking guard," said General Manager Bob Ferry. "Wes has a lot of potential, but we needed scoring help right now, so we made the deal. Collins is a great athlete and we'll use him at both guard and forward."
Matthews was the 14th pick in the first round of the last draft, Collins the 18th.
Collins is under contract for four years.
"He's a scorer more than a shooter, and there is a big difference," Shue said. "And he's a fast break player. He also probably has more individual talent than anyone we already had."
Ferry said he had been exploring a deal for Collins for a long time. The Bullets almost drafted him instead of Matthews, "But we thought Dandridge would be back, so we didn't really need him," Ferry said.
Matthews became expendable because Kevin Porter has been playing exceptionally well and free agent Andre McCarter has impressed Ferry, Shue and Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
"Gene feels really comfortable with Andre, so we were able to make a trade out of position," Ferry said.
Both McCarter and Roberts were signed yesterday to contracts for the remainder of the season after their second 10-day pacts expired. Otherwise, under league rules, the Bullets would have had to release them because a player can be signed to only two 10-day contracts.
Collins was the leading scorer and player of the year in the Pacific-10 Conference last season. He has been starting at guard for the Hawks and is averaging 12.7 points and shooting 43 percent, 85 percent from the foul line. His season high is 25 points.
In three games against the Bullets Collins averaged 15 points and shot 69 percent.
Matthews, whose playing time has dwindled the last couple of weeks, is averaging 12.3 points and 4.4 assists. His downfall was turn-overs, in which he leads the NBA per minute, commiting one every 7.79 minutes he is on the floor.