Wes Unseld managed to smile yesterday morning. It wasn't an automatic reaction, given his mood and the look on his face the night before when his Washington Bullets blew an 11-point lead with two minutes to go in regulation then lost, 128-126, in overtime to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Richfield, Ohio.
"It's done. You just go on from here," he said.
The object of most of Unseld's consternation was probably center Moses Malone. The starting pivotman for the Eastern Conference all-star team, Malone scored 19 points but had just seven rebounds -- one in the opening half.
Malone also was on the court for much of Cleveland center Brad Daugherty's 29-point performance. Daugherty, one of Malone's backups in Sunday's all-star game, matched his season high on 12-of-16 shooting.
Many of those shots were layups or hooks from close to the basket, and he was particularly effective in the final 9:15 when Malone was saddled with five personal fouls.
Although he did not say so, it was clear that Unseld felt that Malone backed down more than necessary.
"He had five fouls, but that was no time to worry about it," Unseld said.
Bernard King hit a jump shot to put Washington ahead, 111-100, with exactly two minutes to play, but Daugherty answered with a basket just 13 seconds later.
Twelve seconds after that the Cavaliers had the ball again, with John (Hot Rod) Williams going to the line after being fouled by Tyrone Bogues.
The Bullets stopped the clock again when they were unable to rebound after Williams missed the second shot. The Cleveland forward got the ball and hit a driving layup for 111-105.
The Bullets added to their problems by throwing away the subsequent inbounds pass -- just seven seconds elapsing. The Cavaliers called time out with 1:25 left; 10 seconds later Williams was scoring again from in close. Unable to find an open man on the inbounds, Moses Malone attempted a long pass to Manute Bol but the ball was intercepted by Daugherty and just eight seconds later Ron Harper scored when Bol was whistled for goaltending.
Keeping the ball for 16 seconds -- their longest possession since King's basket -- Jeff Malone hit a jumper to put Washington ahead, 113-109, with 51 seconds left. Five seconds after that the Cavaliers called a timeout. Eight seconds after play resumed, Daugherty scored again for 113-111.
Bogues hit two free throws with 35 seconds left, but just five ticks later Cavaliers' guard Mark Price -- an 89 percent free throw shooter entering the game -- was fouled by Washington's John Williams. His shots made the score 115-113 and set up the hectic final seconds, when the Bullets turned the ball over once again, setting up Harper's whirling move to the basket for the game-tying shot.