PHILADELPHIA -- Before Friday night's game at the Spectrum, Philadelphia 76ers reserve forward Ron Anderson appeared on television to discuss the persistent rumors that he was to be included in a multiplayer trade with the Charlotte Hornets.
"It's out of my hands," said Anderson. "If it happens, it happens, but that is management's decision, not mine."
Hold the phone. Anderson's worth to the 76ers grew immeasurably overnight. He made a three-point shot in the final four seconds of regulation to tie the Washington Bullets at 96, then added seven points in the overtime as the 76ers triumphed, 115-102.
The Bullets (2-5) were devastated. They had built a 95-85 lead with five minutes left on the strength of Bernard King's 33 points.
But King would not score again, nor could any of his teammates as Washington went the next 9 minutes, 30 seconds, including the overtime, before scoring another field goal.
The Bullets' only point in that stretch came on Pervis Ellison's free throw with nine seconds left. He missed his second attempt, and the 76ers called a timeout to set up a three-point play.
Bullets coach Wes Unseld countered by calling his "blitz defense." Said Unseld: "I told our guys to get up real close on their man and foul them if possible. But [forward Mark] Alarie didn't get close enough to Anderson to do it. Maybe Anderson was too far out on the floor."
Not quite, said Anderson.
"I wasn't the first option on the play. It was [shooting guard] Hersey Hawkins," he said. "When I caught the ball, I gave Alarie a little shoulder fake to the left, and then I used a crossover dribble to break loose. I just lost him. He didn't have a chance to foul me."
Once Anderson's shot split the net, the air went out of the Bullets. Even though the 76ers' All-National Basketball Association forward Charles Barkley (35 points, 18 rebounds) fouled out with 3:52 left in overtime, the Bullets could not regroup. Philadelphia (5-3) moved to a 108-98 lead with 57 seconds remaining before Darrell Walker finally ended the Bullets' field-goal famine.
King, the league scoring leader, who has notched 30 or more points in five straight games, labeled the loss "a game we should have won."
He put on an amazing shooting exhibition in the third quarter when he accounted for 18 straight Bullets points. But he was on the bench for the first seven minutes of the final quarter as Alarie sparked Washington to a 10-point spread.
"No one expected us to win in Philadelphia, but we outplayed them for more than 47 minutes," King said. "People talk about us being a young team that will get better as the season progresses, but you can't let games like this get away."
King said, however, that the 76ers tightened their defense on him in crunch time.