The Washington Bullets jumped ahead of the Indiana Pacers from the outset last night and never let up, getting their biggest point production of the season in a 115-98 victory before 6,489 at Capital Centre.
The Bullets had their most balanced scoring of the year, with six players in double figures. Center Rick Mahorn was the leading scorer with a season-high 26 points. He also had a game-high 16 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Spencer Haywood also established his season high with 19 points, and he was one of four Bullets with 10 or more rebounds on a night they had a season-high team total of 63.
The Pacers came here as one of the National Basketball Association's hottest teams, winning 10 of their last 14 games. But they fell behind, 10-0, and were never closer than nine points the rest of the night.
The Bullets missed their first shot, but then made six in a row, and the Pacers never got in the game.
John Lucas didn't score a point, but had three of his seven assists on the Bullets' first three baskets.
"We took control right away and got some very easy baskets," Coach Gene Shue said. "We've had some trouble scoring in the past, but we had a real good flow tonight. We got the fast break baskets, and it was an open game."
Greg Ballard, who finished with 24 points, scored half of them in the first period, and his 20-footer off a feed from Lucas gave the Bullets a 25-8 lead with 3:30 left in the quarter.
A 13-4 outburst at the beginning of the second period gave the Bullets a 46-26 lead, and they maintained a 17-point advantage at halftime.
The Pacers made a serious run early in the third period, when they scored 15 points to the Bullets' five and cut the lead to 67-56. Rookie Herb Williams had seven of his team-high 19 points in that span.
Rookie Frank Johnson, returning after missing one game with an ankle injury, got the Bullet lead back to 15 with back-to-back fast break baskets.
The visitors made one more run in the fourth period. Pacer reserve guard Butch Carter had 14 points in the quarter and started a rally with a layup, followed by a three-point play.
Don Collins scored on a free throw for the Bullets, but Carter came right back with an 18-footer, George McGinnis scored on a follow and Cleamon Johnson scored after getting an offensive rebound. That left the Bullets with a 91-82 lead with 7:21 remaining. Shue called a timeout.
The teams exchanged baskets the next four possessions, but the Bullets then scored six straight points, four by Mahorn, to take a 101-86 lead with four minutes to play.
The Bullets were ahead, 95-86, when Jeff Ruland took a pass near the foul line to the right side. He made a head and shoulder fake to his left against Johnson and drove around the startled Indiana center and slam-dunked the ball. He then hurried downcourt and blocked a Mike Bantom shot, setting up a layup by Mahorn.
The Pacers missed again on their next possession, and Mahorn made two free throws, increasing the lead to 15 points.
"My scoring wasn't the key," said Mahorn, who made 11 of 17 shots. "The key was us getting off to such a fast start. We wanted to take control early.
"I don't know where my offense had been. I had been indecisive before. I wasn't sure of what shots to take."
The shots Mahorn took last night were mostly turnaround jumpers from 15 feet or power moves inside.
"It certainly helps when Rick plays such a strong offensive game," Shue said. "The rest of his game has always been fine, but we have to get him in the offensive flow and keep him there."