Walter Davis sent the game into overtime with a 16-foot jump shot with 16 seconds left in regulation, then scored six points in the extra period to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 113-107 victory over the travel-weary Washington Bullets tonight. The Suns rallied from five points down with 1:41 remaining in regulation.
Davis finished with 32 points and his back court partner, Dennis Johnson, had 27, including four in the overtime period.
Kevin Grevey led the Bullets with a season-high 36 points. Kevin Porter scored 14 and had 17 assists, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Bullets from losing for the third time in four games on this seven-stop road trip.
The Bullets were down, 96-95, with 3:02 left in regulation when Grevey made two free throws after Johnson fouled him. Then, after a Davis miss, Greg Ballard, who scored 18 points, scored on a 20-footer for a 99-96 Bullet lead.
Grevey stole a Truck Robinson pass intended for Davis on Phoenix's next possession and fed Ballard for a fast-break basket that gave the Bullets a 101-96 lead with 1:41 to play.
But Porter was called for a touch foul and Johnson made one free throw to cut the lead to four points. Then Porter missed a running one-hander. Davis rebounded and Robinson tapped in a Davis miss to cut the margin to 101-99.
Elvin Hayes was called for traveling with 42 seconds left, setting up Davis' jumper that sent the game into overtime. The Bullets held the ball for one shot but the strategy failed.
"We ran our one-four offense and Kevin was supposed to pass to me on the left, Greg on the right or get fouled and I guess he took option No. 4," said Grevey.
With Grevey and Ballard both covered, Porter took the ball to the basket, but when Johnson cut him off, he pulled up with a 15-footer that bounded off the rim.
"It ws a good shot. It just didn't go in," said Bullet Coach Gene Shue.
The Bullets didn't have a chance in the overtime. Davis scored on an offensive rebound, Johnson converted a fast break and Davis made a baseline jump as the Suns opened the extra period with six straight points and the Bullets folded.
Grevey, who sprained his ankle in the third period, scored 23 of his points before halftime. Davis had 22 of his in the second half. The Suns put him in a low post and let him work free.
"Davis likes to drive, so I have to give him the outside shot first, and he was making it," said Grevey. "I went up with him twice and he just moved the ball to the side and still made the shot. There isn't much you can do when a guy is shooting like that."
Grevey was on target from the beginning, making six of nine shots in the first period and going on to score 23 first-half points. But the Bullets still trailed by two, 52-50, at intermission.
Phoenix, the third best team in the National Basketball Association, moved to an early 15-12 lead before Grevey scored the game's next nine points to put the Bullets on top, 21-15. Grevey started the streak with a three-point field goal, his first in four games, and he also scored on two drives and a 20-footer.
Johnson, who was guarding Grevey, snapped the string with a fast-break basket, but the Bullets came back with a fast-break basket by Porter, and, after a Phoenix miss, Grevey made another 20-footer. The Bullets led, 25-17, and the Suns called timeout with 3:33 left in the quarter.
They brought in quick guard Johnny High to harass Porter and the strategy worked. With High dogging Porter every step he took, the Bullets were pushed out of their offense and didn't score another point the remainder of the period.
The Suns, meanwhile, closed the quarter with 11 unanswered points and opened the second quarter with four more to lead, 32-25, with Alvan Adams and reserve Alvin Scott doing most of the scoring. The Bullets ended a 5 1/2-minute scoring drought with a basket by Austin Carr.
In that scoreless span, the Bullets missed nine shots and committed four turnovers.
Carr's basket started the Bullets on a 10-streak that brought them right back in the game. After High made one free throw, the Bullets' two hottest reserves, Mitch Kupchak and Don Collins, took over, the Bullets taking a 35-33 lead with 7:27 left in the half.
Davis and Robinson kept the Suns going, while Grevey led the way the rest of the half for the Bullets. Grevey scored 10 points in the last seven minutes, but the Bullets couldn't pull away.
In an effort to get the right combination of players on the floor, Shue played Grevey and Carr together in the backcourt, and they held their own. Shue went to that alignment because the Suns, with the 6-foot-6 Davis and the 6-4 Johnson in the backcourt, like to play an inverted offense in which the guards post up low and Alvan Adams comes out high and becomes the primary passer.
Two baskets by Ballard tied the score, 60-60, early in the third period, but the whirlwind Davis led the Suns on an 8-0 run. After a layup by Johnson, Davis scored six straight points on three short jump shots to give Phoenix a 68-60 lead.
Davis scored 10 points in the quarter, Johnson eight and High four to account for 22 of the Suns' 28 third-quarter points as they moved to an 82-75 lead going into the final 12 minutes.