It was John Lucas' night tonight.
The energetic guard scored, passed, led cheers and pumped up the Bullets as they sped past the Dallas Mavericks with a 69-point second half, winning, 119-102, at Reunion Arena to get off on their six-game road trip with two straight victories.
The Bullets also are a .500 team once again, 24-24.
The victory was marred by an injury to Kevin Grevey who jammed the index finger of his right (nonshooting) hand while trying to block an Elston Turner shot in the third quarter and was taken to a hospital for X-rays. They were negative, but he has been diagnosed as having ligament damage in the hand, which he said was very sore. His status for Saturday's game in Houston is uncertain.
Lucas scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and had 12 assists, equaling his season high. Jeff Ruland scored a career-high 27 points and Greg Ballard had 25. Ruland also equaled his career high in minutes, with 41.
The Bullets shot a season's best 62 percent, mainly because they had so many layups.
The Bullets fell behind by 12 points early in the second quarter, but Coach Gene Shue juggled his lineup until he found the right combination.
Lucas, Ruland and Ballard scored 10 points apiece in the third period as the Bullets, who trailed, 51-50, at halftime, took an 87-86 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Bullets opened the period with an 18-3 burst that gave them a 105-89 lead and left the Mavericks out of breath and reeling. Twelve of those 18 Bullets points came off the fast break, half of them by Lucas, who was releasing as the ball went up. With the Bullets controlling the boards, he had some easy breakaway solo layups. In that span, Dallas missed 10 of 11 shots.
Lucas, who usually is relieved by rookie Frank Johnson in the fourth period, played the entire second half tonight. He committed only one turnover in 31 minutes.
"He controlled the game, especially in the second half," said Ballard. "He really ran the offense. When he had an opening, he took it and when it wasn't there he brought it back out and got us into our offense."
Shue added to the praise of Lucas. "He played a terrific game," the coach said. "He was penetrating; playing good defense, and had an overall good floor game. He played so well in the second half I just left him in."
Lucas had only two points in seven minutes in the first half and Johnson came on to score 10 points to keep the Bullets close.
The second half belonged to Lucas.
"I was playing against Brad (Davis), so I had to show him a few things," Lucas said of his former Maryland teammate who now is the Dallas point guard. "I wasn't doing anything special. "I may have been a little more pumped up than usual, but I was just playing as hard as I could."
Lucas made seven of nine shots from the field and was eight of eight from the foul line. Ruland was 10 of 15 from the floor and had 11 rebounds.
Dallas Coach Dick Motta said the addition of Ruland and Lucas has made a big difference to his former team.
"Ruland has already received recognition as one of the best rookies the Bullets have ever had and we certainly couldn't control him, which I guess is the sign of a great player," said Motta. "And Lucas was as good as I've ever seen him against the Mavericks."