Frank Johnson found his shooting touch when Washington needed it most last night, scoring seven points in overtime, and the Bullets defeated the Indiana Pacers, 119-115, to even their record at 3-3 before 7,821 at Capital Centre.
Johnson, three for 15 from the field against Boston Friday night, missed six of his first eight shots last night. But he made three straight in the overtime period for a 15-point game total and 14 assists on top of a career-high 15 in Boston.
Third-string Bullet guards John Lucas and Don Collins propelled a fourth-quarter rally that brought the home team from 11 points down to force the extra period.
The score was tied at 110 with 1:58 left in the overtime when the Bullets cleared out the right side and let Johnson work one-on-one against Indiana's Jerry Sichting. Johnson drove by Sichting, scored and was fouled. His successful free throw gave the Bullets a 113-110 lead.
Billy Knight, high scorer for Indiana with 26 points, made a layup, but Greg Ballard, the Bullets' leading scorer with 28, made a 17-footer to restore the lead to three points. After Sichting fumbled the inbounds pass out of bounds, Johnson scored again, driving around the unlucky Pacer guard in the process.
On Indiana's next possession, Collins knocked the ball away from Knight to Johnson and Johnson fed it back to Collins for a fast-break layup and a 119-112 lead with 20 seconds remaining.
Rookie Clark Kellogg made a three-point play in the final 11 seconds for the Pacers, but the Bullets' reversal of their 93-90 opening-game loss in Indianapolis had been achieved.
Collins made four points in the overtime and 10 in the fourth period. Lucas scored the Bullets' final five points in regulation play and had three assists in seven minutes.
A steal and layup by former Georgetown guard John Duren gave the Pacers an 88-77 lead with 8:39 remaining.
The Pacers were still up by 10 points with 5:50 remaining when Johnson twisted his right ankle and went to the bench. Lucas replaced him and the Bullets were off and running. They virtually abandoned their set offense and freelanced their way back into the game, with Lucas directing the show.
Collins started the rally with a three-point play off the fast break and then fed Ballard for a jump shot. Another fast-break basket by Collins on an assist from Lucas cut Indiana's lead to 94-91 with 4:10 to go.
After a basket by Rick Mahorn, Knight made two free throws to keep Indiana on top, 96-93, but Ballard scored four straight points to give the Bullets a 97-96 lead with 3:12 left.
Two free throws by Knight, an offensive foul on Jeff Ruland and a hook by Herb Williams put Indiana ahead, 100-97, with 2:30 left.
Collins scored on a drive and Lucas made a free throw to tie the score. Knight made two more free throws after being fouled by Mahorn, but Lucas made a layup after an assist from Collins. Then Knight intercepted a Lucas pass and George Johnson scored, giving Indiana 104-102 lead with 46 seconds remaining.
Lucas tied the score with 32 seconds left on a drive.
Knight charged into Collins on the Pacers' next possession, giving the ball back to the Bullets, but Billy Ray Bates missed a 20-footer at the buzzer.
Ruland had 20 points and a season-high 17 rebounds before fouling out in the last three minutes of regulation play.
"We got a great effort from Lucas and Collins," said Coach Gene Shue. "They came in and changed the tempo and got us running. That combination did a heck of a job."
This was the Bullets' fourth game in five nights and the first of a three- game home stand after playing four of their first five games on the road.
"I'm thankful that we're 3-3," Shue said. "Tonight would have been a real tough loss for us."
The Pacers lost their third straight since that opening victory over the Bullets.