Everything Kevin Porter tried worked yesterday and his behind-the-back passes and knifing, penetrating drives earned the Bullets their fourth straight victory, a 110-99 decision over the frustrated New Jersey Nets before 7,228 at Capital Centre.
Porter had a season-high 31 points, making 13 of 19 shots, with 12 assists and five steals. New Jersey guards Lowes Moore and Darwin Cook were completely out of their element trying to keep up with Porter, who penetrated the middle virtually at will.
Elvin Hayes ran out of gas after having played 47 minutes Saturday night against San Antonio, playing only 20 minutes against the Nets and scoring eight points. He wasn't needed, and neither was guard Don Collins, acquired from Atlanta Saturday for Wes Matthews. Collins was given permission to report today.
Mitch Kupchak, meanwhile, played supersub again, scoring a season-high 27 points and matching his career high in rebounds with 17. With Kupchak dominating inside and Porter orchestrating the game, the Bullets jumped to an early lead and were never in any danger of losing.
"K.P. has had to pick up the slack because so many people are out," Coach Gene Shue said. "The ball is in his hands most of the time and he knows what to do with it. We're running a delayed break where there is no set play and he can free-lance. We're playing a lot of one-four where he's isolated in the middle."
In that one-four offense, the other four players are spread across the floor on both sides of the lane and Porter controls the ball with his dribble in the middle.
"I know I can get to the middle any time I want to," Porter said, "The one-four offense is good for me because I can recognize situations better in that type of setup and get the ball to whoever is open."
Porter's play has been the key to all four victories in the streak that started against Los Angeles on Wednesday. He had 12 points and 15 assists that game and followed with 25 points and 15 assists at Detroit the next night. He returned to Capital Centre Saturday night and provided 15 points and 11 assists against San Antonio.
Over the four games, Porter averaged 20.8 points, 13.3 assists and shot 58 percent from the field.
"K.P. has a good outside shot and I've encouraged him to take it more often," said Shue. It's when he penetrates that he's so effective, but when he takes the outside shot, too, he's almost impossible to contain."
The Bullets won the four games by 10, 17, 10 and 11 points and climbed back into contention for a playoff spot. They are 21-27 and tied with Chicago for the sixth and last playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
"We were really tired today," Shue said. "We got a good lead and then just held on."
Porter assisted on Washington's first six field goals and the home team sped to a 33-21 lead after one period. The Bullets led, 72-49, after a 9-0 scoring run in the third period. Porter had seven of the nine points and assisted Kupchak on the other two. All were scored off the fast break. The Bullets got 31 points off the break to 18 for New Jersey.
Guard Kevin Grevey, who took an elbow to the jaw in the San Antonio game, came back and scored 14 points. X-rays to the jaw showed no damage.
The Nets, who broke a 14-game losing streak Saturday night in Detroit, were led here by Mike Newlin with 20 points. Reserves Bob Elliott and Edgar Jones had 16 and 14, respectively.
As fatigued as the Bullets are, they will not get much rest. After today off, they play the Utah Jazz Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday and the Seattle SuperSonics Friday.
Shue is hoping to have Wes Unseld back sometime during the week. Unseld has missed eight of the last nine games with tendinitis in his right knee.