The Washington Bullets started so fast against the Chicago Bulls tonight it looked as if they might score more than the 143 points they had the last time they were at Chicago Stadium.
But after a brilliant 35-point first quarter that resulted in a 15-point lead, the Bullets fell apart in the middle two periods and had to rally behind Kevin Grevey in the final quarter to pull out a 108-102 victory over the Bulls.
Washington trailed by seven points early in the fourth period before Grevey got hot. He scored 14 of his 21 points, including two three-point shots, in the final 10 minutes to help the Bullets even their record at 11-11.
"We played as well as a team can play in the first quarter," Coach Gene Shue said, "and then we just fell apart in the next two quarters before getting it back together in the last period."
The Bullets made their first seven shots of the game and 14 of their first 16 on the way to a 35-20 first-quarter lead.
Don Collins made seven of nine shots and had 14 points. Greg Ballard, who was the game's high scorer with 22, made all five of his first-quarter shots.
The second period was a complete turnaround as the Bullets made only seven of 25 shots and were outscored, 17-2, in one stretch.
Shue tried everything imaginable to turn the tide. He called timeouts; he made substitutions; he yelled; he sat quietly.
The Bullets trailed, 53-51, at half-time and then shot only 32 percent in the third quarter. After scoring 35 in the first period, it took them the second and third periods combined to get their next 35.
The fourth period looked more like the first as they made 13 of 22 shots and scored 38 points.
The Bulls were leading, 79-72, when Grevey made his first three-pointer from the right corner. After berding got the Bulls within 97-95 with 1:42 remaining, but Grevey made a 20-footer, and after Orlando Woolridge's basket, Ruland made a three-point play for a 102-97 Washington lead that sealed the victory.
"Some days I'm going to his those shots and some days I'm going to miss them," said Grevey, who had his best game since coming off the injured list Dec. 1.
"I'm feeling more comfortable every game and tonight I really felt in the flow. I hadn't felt that way the last two games. I knew, because of the way Chicago plays defense, that we could get whatever shots we wanted out front, and Don and I took advantage of that."
Spencer Haywood, playing his second game since he came off the injured list, scored 10 points and had four rebounds.
"Those two really gave us a lift off the bench," said Shue, "and once they get back 100 percent, we'll have the offensive balance we're looking for. Right now, though, we're a 100-points-a-game team. That's about it. Look at this game: we scored 35 points in the first quarter and still barely got to 100."
The Bullets were concerned about six points. We were controlling the boards, so I was off and running."
Ruland, in foul trouble much of the game, had his poorest game of the season. He took only four shots in 34 minutes and scored eight points, the first time this year he hasn't scored in double figures.