The spotlight has been a long time finding Kevin Grevey, but the often-injured, much-maligned guard shot himself back into the hearts of Bullets followers last night.
Grevey, a reserve behind Don Collins the last seven games because of an abdominal muscle pull, had his most productive long-range shooting night this season, making four of four three-point shots on his way to 23 points as the Bullets defeated the New Jersey Nets, 103-92, at Capital Centre to sweep their miniseries, 2-0.
"I've been with the Bullets seven years, and whenever you've been with any team that long, you're going to have some peaks and some valleys," Grevey said. "And God knows I've had some valleys here, but this victory tonight makes up for everything."
Grevey got 16 points and three of his three-pointers in the last quarter. In a five-minute stretch of that period, he scored 13 of his team's 15 points as the Bullets blew open the game.
"Spencer (Haywood) got them back and Grevey got them over the hump," said New Jersey Coach Larry Brown. "He killed us."
"When I hit those three-pointers I was so psyched up I could have jumped out of my skin," Grevey said. "I really felt bad a few days ago because my injury was so bad I couldn't really cut or anything. All I could do was rest and shoot, so I carried a ball in my trunk and shot whenever I could."
It paid off.
Grevey was forced into the game earlier than expected because Collins got into foul trouble.
"I felt pretty good once I got going," Grevey said, "and the tempo was such that I didn't have to drag my leg around. I had a feeling driving over here that something like this was going to happen, and once I got going in the second half I knew it was my night."
Coach Gene Shue said Collins would still start in Boston in Sunday's first game of that best-of-seven series, and added that "Kevin is just what we need off the bench."
Greg Ballard, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, said Grevey's outside shooting is just what the Bullets have been waiting for. "That was the key," he said. "When he is hitting those shots you have to play him and that opens a lot of stuff for the rest of us."
Once Grevey got the hot hand, the Bullets kept him warm.
"This game reminded me of that 1978 game in Atlanta when he scored 41 points," said Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff. "He just felt it and so did his teammates, so they just kept giving him the ball."
Albert King, who made his first 11 shots and finished with 23 points, said, "Grevey was phenomenal and the Bullets just played a great game. I felt real comfortable myself, but it wasn't enough. You have to give them credit."
Brown was dejected, but said his team did as well as it could "considering we only had two guards." Regular playmaker Foots Walker sprained his ankle in the last regular-season game and didn't play in this series.
Darwin Cook was at point guard most of the game and had 15 points and five assists, but he also had six of the Nets' 20 turnovers. The Bullets got 28 points off those mistakes; the Nets got only eight points off the Bullets' turnovers.
"I'm not making any excuses, but we just didn't have any guards," Brown said, "and we showed our inexperience when the game got close. It was tough for Darwin because he didn't get any help in controlling the tempo. He's not even a real point guard anyway and we asked him to play there.
"We're young, though, and we'll be back."
The Bullets, meanwhile, will be in Boston.