The Washington Bullets got Philadelphia to play their slow-paced game most of last night's contest. But the 76ers showed that they are almost as devastating with that style as they are with the fast break as they outmuscled the Bullets, 106-89, at Capital Centre.
The 76ers have the best record in the National Basketball Association, 26-5, and they showed a sellout crowd of 19,035 and the Bullets why. They appeared to exert themselves only when they needed to, while the Bullets struggled throughout and were never really a threat.
"We did just about what we could do," said Bullets Coach Gene Shue. "The Sixers played hard and they played good defense. We just can't score. With Spencer (Haywood) not being ready and with Frank Johnson and Don Collins out, we just aren't getting the points. All of our games usually end up like this one; we score 89 and the other team scores whatever it can get.
"We got the Sixers to play at the pace we wanted, but we have to run plays to get the ball to certain people for specific shots and they just give the ball to Andrew Toney or Doc (Julius Erving) or Moses (Malone) and they go one on one and score."
The 76ers have won nine of their last 10 games, with the only defeat in that span coming here, 100-97, Dec. 18.
Toney ran into a Rick Mahorn pick that game, sprained his right shoulder and scored only eight points. He had eight points in the first four minutes last night and went on to lead the 76ers with 28. Erving brought the crowd to its feet with a couple of vintage Dr. J. drives and finished with 23. Malone had 22.
The 76ers scored the game's first five points, four by Toney, and the Bullets never caught up.
"I wanted to come out aggressive and establish myself early," said Toney.
"I don't know if this was a payback for what happened to us down here last time," said Philadelphia Coach Billy Cunningham, "but we knew we had to play well if we were going to beat them and we responded."
Both teams had 38 field goals, but Philadelphia made 29 of 39 free throws while the Bullets were only 12 of 25 from the foul line.
"They go to the line because they are taking the ball to the basket," said Shue. "We aren't that kind of team. We don't have the type of players to play that way."
The 76ers shot 50 percent from the field and the Bullets 42.
"We played silly," said Greg Ballard, who had 23 points. "Mentally, we did everything we could to destroy ourselves. We just weren't in the game. Physically, we played hard and tried, but mentally, we were awful. You can't throw the ball away and be as careless as we were with a team like Philadelphia because they are going to capitalize on mistakes like that."
The Bullets committed only 19 turnovers, but the 76ers turned them into 21 points, while 18 Philadelphia turnovers resulted in only 10 points for the Bullets.
Toney, working against Kevin Grevey, who seemed lost on defense, scored 12 of Philaldelphia's first 24 points and the visitors led, 24-12, late in the first quarter.
They opened the second period with an 8-0 spurt, with Malone and Toney each scoring four of the points, to lead, 32-16.
The closest the Bullets got after that was seven points, 72-65, late in the third quarter after a free throw by Jeff Ruland--who scored 25 points--a hook by Ruland and a layup by Ballard. But the 76ers responded with a three-point play by Toney and a fast-break basket by Russ Schoene to take a 77-65 lead into the final quarter.
This was the first time in the last nine games that a Bullets opponent has scored 100 or more points. Washington still had won seven of its last 11 games going into tonight's encounter with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Richfield, Ohio (WDCA-TV-20 at 8:05).