PHOENIX, FEB. 27 -- Guard Jeff Malone scored 47 points -- 28 in a record-setting third period -- to lead the Washington Bullets to a 116-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns tonight at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
His third quarter total -- he made 12 of 14 shots from the floor -- set a building record for a period. His game total was a high for the Bullets this season -- center Moses Malone once had 36 points -- and was just under his career high of 48 points last season against the New Jersey Nets.
Oddly, tonight's effort came against a Phoenix team that was interested in acquiring him earlier this week during the last days before the NBA trading deadline. When the Bullets (21-32) wouldn't include forward John Williams in a package involving Larry Nance, the Suns turned to the Cleveland Cavaliers for an alternate deal.
Williams, starting his second consecutive game for Washington, had 21 points. But the biggest plays of the evening may have come from 5-foot-4 guard Tyrone Bogues and forward Charles Jones.
The Bullets trailed, 95-93, with seven minutes left in the game and the Suns headed toward the basket on a five-on-one break, Washington's diminutive rookie, Bogues, the only defender. Somehow, Phoenix rookie forward Armon Gilliam missed an easy layin with Bogues clearing the rebound. He then launched himself toward the opposite end of the floor and scored on a reverse layup to tie the game.
The visitors were trying to nurse a four-point lead in the last 30 seconds when Jones blocked another layup attempt, this one by forward Eddie Johnson, who led the 17-36 Suns with 28 points.
Frank Johnson of the Bullets sat out the game, having bruised his right knee in the 129-110 victory Thursday in Sacramento.
Phoenix took a 6-2 lead, then the visitors spurted ahead, 11-8, with seven minutes to play in the opening quarter. Leading the spurt was Jeff Malone, who converted a three-point play, and Williams. Starting again for Terry Catledge, Williams scored on a pretty end-to-end driving layup.
After a Phoenix timeout, Williams made a long jumper. The shot was matched by a score from Suns' forward Eddie Johnson (no relation to the Bullets' guard) and started an 8-0 spurt that put the home team ahead by 16-13 with 3:34 left. Bullets' Coach Wes Unseld called time out to try and stop the momentum.
It didn't break Gilliam's. He'd scored the last four points before the break and he got the first one afterward. The Suns continued to run, getting a total of 14 straight points to move ahead 22-13. Washington went without a point for five minutes before Steve Colter drove the right side for a layup. But Eddie Johnson got four more points, with the Bullets only coming up with a dunk by Williams in response, and Phoenix took a 26-17 lead after the first period.
By the time 6:14 was left in the half, though, the Bullets had drawn within 38-35 by scoring eight straight points. Then the Suns got consecutive baskets from Mark West, Kevin Johnson and Walter Davis.
By intermission, the Suns were ahead by 52-48, Eddie Johnson having made a three-point field goal from just inside the half-court line with a second remaining.
He led the Suns with 17 points in the first half. Jeff Malone finished with 14 for Washington, two more than Williams. Phoenix shot 56 percent from the field.
Two minutes into the third quarter the Bullets had tied the game at 54. Jeff Malone got two baskets and Moses Malone, who had just two points on one-for-six shooting from the floor in the first half, added two foul shots.
With 7:29 left in the period, Washington trailed, 62-57, but already was in the penalty bonus, the Suns committing five team fouls. To that point, the Bullets had been called for one, which didn't escape Suns' Coach John Wetzel as he called time out seconds later.
With 2:25 left, the Suns led, 77-69, but that was no fault of Jeff Malone. He had scored 34 points until then, 20 in the third period. In fact, he had scored the Bullets' last 14 points and had all of their field goals in the period. The other five points in the quarter came on Moses Malone's four foul shots and Williams' one.
Jeff Malone went to the line with 2:12 remaining and made two shots to set a season-high. With 1:29 left, he drove the lane for another basket, giving him 24 in the quarter -- a record for any opposing player in the Coliseum.