"Had to baptize him, didn't I?" Gervin said, his face breaking into a wide grin. "Had to let 'em know what Ice can do."
In a great mismatch, Gervin was guarded by Gary Witts, the Bullets' fifth-round draft choice, during stretches of the second and third quarters last night. He responded like a seal in a fish pond, scoring 30 of his 42 points in those two periods to pace San Antonio to a 110-99 victory over the Bullets before 5,583 at Capital Centre.
Gervin, the NBA's leading scorer with a 32.0 average, broke open a close game midway through the third quarter, scoring 12 points and getting two assists in six minutes to boost the Spurs' lead to 81-66.
Although they made only 41 percent of their shots, the Bullets led, 51-50, at intermission and were trailing only 65-60 when Gervin took charge.
Coach Gene Shue was in a bind. When Grevey left with a pulled groin muscle that will keep him out of Thursday night's game in New York, Shue tried swing men Don Collins and Charles Davis, then, finally, Witts as his big defensive guard. Combined, they had about as much success containing Gervin as they would confetti in a windstorm.
"Initially, I thought Kevin was doing a pretty good job on Gervin," Shue said. "When he went out, I went to Collins, who quickly got in foul trouble. That left Witts, and when I brought him in, Gervin's eyes started to light up."
The Bullets were nursing a 43-38 lead when the Spurs called time out with 3:11 remaining in the half. Obviously, Gervin decided then that it was time to show Witts, a fifth-round draft choice from Holy Cross, that the Ice Capades isn't the only Ice show that appears at the Capital Centre.
He started off with a 17-footer, then made a twisting drive and an 18-footer within 60 seconds. After a goal-tending violation by Mark Olberding, Gervin made a pair of free throws and added another jumper off a fast break.
"I always seem to play well here," said the pencil-thin, 6-foot-8 guard, who scored 34 points and was voted the most valuable player in the All-Star Game here in 1980. "I love it when people like watching me play, and that's always the way it is here."
Despite Gervin's spree and 24 points by halftime, the Bullets took a one-point lead into the third quarter and still led, 55-54, before Mike Bratz's 14-footer from the side put the Spurs in front to stay.
Collins picked up his fifth foul trying to stay with Gervin. Davis came in and committed two fouls in less than two minutes. Witts came in for another try that proved as futile as the first.
"I knew I was going to guard him when I went in," said Witts, a 6-7 swing man. "We all had a chance at him, but I guess when he goes off like that there's not much you can do.
"I tried to put pressure on him," Witts continued. "But he's so smooth, and he's got great balance. Even when you hit him, he squares up and gets off a good shot. The only thing you can try to do is to keep the ball away from him."
Once Gervin got through, the game was settled, although Frank Johnson tried to start a Bullet rally in the fourth quarter.
After Greg Ballard, top Bullet scorer with 26 points, sank two jumpers, Johnson sank three in a row to cut the lead to 87-78 with nine minutes remaining.
The 6-2 rookie from Wake Forest made two three-pointers in a row, but the Bullets never got closer than 10 points and went down to their seventh loss in the last eight games.