The Washington Bullets' problems continued last night as they blew a 10-point third period lead and lost to the Golden State Warriors, 116-104, before 6,847 at Capital Centre.
The loss was the Bullets' fourth in a row. In winning, Golden State broke a five-game losing streak.
The Bullets had won seven of nine at home before last night's game. But they played fair defense in the first half, very little in the third period and even less in the final 12 minutes. The Bullets led, 80-70, at one point and looked on the verge of breaking the game open with just over three minutes left in the third period. Then everything that could go wrong did.
The Warriors, who made 15 of 26 field goal tries in the last quarter, got superb efforts from Purvis Short (34 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds) and Joe Barry Carroll (26 points, ten rebounds). Carroll, the sometimes tempermental 7-foot center, was quiet for three periods before taking over.
Washington (17-18) led, 86-84, with 10:25 to play. Carroll scored over Jeff Ruland to tie the game at 86. He was fouled and made the ensuing free throw, and the Warriors (16-22) never trailed again.
"The team sort of carried us until J.B. got going," said a pleased Warrior Coach Al Attles. "He was sort of affected by Washington's physical play early and didn't get in the game."
Said Bullet Coach Gene Shue: "I wish I had something different to tell you, but I don't. We're still struggling, offensively and defensively. Our defense was nonexistent."
Washington didn't know who to concentrate on, Short or Carroll. Consequently, the Bullets didn't stop either one.
Short made three free throws and Larry Smith tipped in a miss by Short and the Warriors were up, 92-86, with 9:04 remaining.
But the Bullets came back. Kevin Porter and Ruland each had three-point plays, Ruland's tying the game at 96 with 5:57 left.
After a miss by Golden State, John Lucas drove in for an apparent basket but basket interference was called on Ruland. That call seemed to take out what fire was left in Washington.
Short made two free throws, Ron Brewer scored from 18 feet and Short made a long basket over Ballard and the Warriors were up, 102-96, with 3:53 to play.
Carroll scored six of his team's final 10 points, all in close, to ensure the Warriors' victory.
"We were playing fine defense early," said Bullet forward Spencer Haywood, who had all 12 of his points in the first half. "The second half, we stopped executing. To create things, you have to get the ball to the right people."
The Bullets played well offensively in the first half, regrouping from an 9-4 deficit to lead, 29-26, after the first period. They were ahead by eight in the second quarter and held a 62-61 lead at intermission.
Short, making his arching jump shot, and Brewer seemed to come up with a basket each time Washington threatened to make a move.
"Each time, they tried to play me straight-up man to man, I looked to dump the ball off to J.B.," said Short. "Any time he got open inside, he got the ball. When they sagged back, I took the shot."
The Warriors also got good efforts from Smith, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Rickey Brown, who scored eight points in the first half.
The Bullets, who play in San Antonio tonight, were led by Ballard with 26 points, Kevin Grevey with 21 and Ruland with 15. Grevey made three three-point field goals.
Washington received a scare when center Rick Mahorn fell over several chairs chasing a loose ball in the first period. He slightly sprained his knee but returned to the game.