The Philadelphia 76ers are supposed to be the Doctor's team, but with Julius Erving playing a quiet, subdued role tonight, guards Lionel Hollins and Maurice Cheeks got the 76ers clicking.
They rolled to a 116-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Spectrum to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoffs series. The sixth games will be played Friday in Milwaukee.
Hollins and Cheeks each had 20 points to lead the 76er scoring. Hollins made eight of 11 shots from the floor and had seven assists and two steals. Cheek made 10 of 15 shots and had 10 assists and two steals. Erving finished with 19 points.
The 76ers led by 11 points at halftime, but Milwaukee fought back behind Sidney Moncrief to close to within five points at 78-73 with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-4 Moncrief scored 14 of his 20 points in a nine-minute span of the third period. He got them on lob dunks, change-of-direction drives and breakaway layups.
The 76ers wouldn't fold, though, and responded with a 10-0 scoring burst to take a 15-point lead into the final quarter.
Bobby Jones started the spurt with two free throws after Bob Lanier was charged with punching him in the back.
The Bucks missed three shots on their next possession. Andrew Toney made two free throws for the 76ers and followed them with a 20-footer after another Milwaukee miss.
The Bucks missed again on their next possession and the 76ers got three more shots before Hollins made a 20-footer as the period ended.
Milwaukee made one more run midway through the final period, cutting the 76ers margin to 95-87 after trailing by 16 points.
But Cheeks, Caldwell Jones and Erving came up with three straight outstanding individual plays to silence the Bucks.
First, Cheeks scored on a length of the court drive. Then Jones leaped over three Bucks to slam-dunk a missed shot by Erving and got the Philadelphia lead back to 12 points.
On Milwaukee's next possession, Cheeks snuck up behind Mickey Johnson and swiped the ball off his dribble. While falling out of bounds, he whipped a 30-foot pass down the right sideline to Erving.
Erving took three gigantic steps while dribbling and took off about 15 feet from the basket, scoring on a twisting scoop shot around a startled Bridgeman.
The Bucks played the fourth period without their best player, Marques Johnson, who was on the bench with back spasms.
Johnson incurred the injury in practice Tuesday, but tried to play in spite of the pain. He played 28 minutes and scored nine points with nine rebounds and seven assists, but he just couldn't do what he wanted to offensively.
"It was Nellie's (Coach Don Nelson) decision not to play me any more," Johnson said, "But I wasn't doing anything out there anyway. The strategy was to play me as long as I could go, hoping it wouldn't tighten up on me. It did, though."