Kevin Grevey scored 24 points yesterday and got his team's second four-point play this season. But after the Washington Bullets' 110-109 victory over the New York Knicks, before 6,434 at Capital Centre, he was asked mostly about his defense.
Grevey, who has had some of his best games against New York this season, played an important role in preventing the Knicks from getting the final shot they wanted.
After John Lucas was called for walking with 12 seconds remaining, the Knicks had a chance to win. The play, according to New York Coach Red Holzman, was designed to free Randy Smith, who already had 18 points in the last quarter.
Washington Coach Gene Shue inserted his tallest guard, Don Collins, to guard Smith. Lucas was assigned to Michael Ray Richardson and Grevey picked up Paul Westphal.
With Richardson dribbling left, Collins got caught up in a screen, freeing Smith. Grevey quickly switched from covering Westphal to the passing lane, preventing Richardson from passing to Smith. Westphal was open momentarily, but Richardson didn't see him and forced an off-balance shot that bounced off the front rim as the game ended.
"It was instinctive," Grevey said. "Randy was the hot shooter and I knew if I didn't switch, he'd get the ball. If they would have seen Westphal and he made the winning shot, I guess I would have been the goat."
Smith almost single-handedly brought the Knicks back after they entered the fourth quarter trailing, 89-80. Although he started, Smith was scoreless the first three quarters. He got 10 points the first six minutes of the last period and suddenly the score was 97-94.
With the 6-foot-5 Grevey assigned to guard Westphal, the Bullets had trouble matching up with the 6-4 Smith. Frank Johnson couldn't contain him and neither could Lucas. Finally, Shue went to Collins.
"Randy is a terrific shooter with great range," said Shue. "When he gets hot, he's almost unstoppable. He was their whole offense in the fourth quarter."
With Smith leading the charge, the Knicks finally surged in front, 103-101, on a fast-break three-point play by Sly Williams with 3:56 to go. Greg Ballard's three-point play put the Bullets back ahead, but Smith made another long fade-away and the Knicks were leading, 105-104, with less than three minutes remaining.
That's when Grevey got one of the few four-point plays in the league this season. He sank his second three-point shot of the game, was fouled, and made the free throw. That put the Bullets in front to stay, 108-105.
"My man sagged in on (Jeff) Ruland and I slid off into the three-point area," Grevey explained. "After I let the shot go, Richardson ran past me. I made contact with him and they called the foul."
The Bullets are tied with New Jersey for third place in the Atlantic Division, five games ahead of the Knicks. They have beaten New York five out of six times with Grevey playing a major role in the last three.
Three weeks ago, he scored the last seven points in an overtime victory here; March 13, he made three three-point shots and had a season-high 26 points to lead a second-half comeback in New York. And yesterday, he made the big shot and the defensive play of the game.
As usual, Ballard was very effective down the stretch, scoring nine of his game-high 31 points in the final 5:40 after the Knicks closed to three points.
Lucas also played well, with a game-high 11 assists, eight in the second quarter when the Bullets outscored the Knicks, 32-23, to take a 59-51 halftime lead.
"This was a very critical game," Lucas said. "This is the kind of game we have to win. We've lost a few at home we should have won, but this makes up for one and it could be the difference in getting into the playoffs."