With 1.1 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 100, Washington Bullets guard Darrell Walker saw an open lane to the basket and drove in, looking for the game-winner.
"I thought I had a layup all the way," said Walker, who was soaking his ankles in ice water after contributing 12 assists, 11 rebounds and eight points. "Hersey Hawkins made a hell of a play. He came out of nowhere."
From there, the game went to overtime, where the Philadelphia 76ers finally won out, 106-105, after an evening of big plays, bizarre calls and crazy shots, including a 30-footer by Bernard King that just missed at the final bell.
"I can't tell you how relieved I was when a couple of their guys touched that ball," said Hawkins, who was under the Arena hoop at the final shot. "Bernard's shot was right on. When it came down and hit the rim and bounced up, I was sure it was going to come back down through the net. But a couple of their guys touched it and changed its course."
Sort of the way Hawkins had changed Walker's course earlier.
"Nah, that wasn't me," Hawkins said. "I can't jump. Darrell just more or less put it in my hand. He didn't see me at first, because I was behind one of his guys. When I saw him coming in, I just stepped out. He had nowhere to go."
That's usually how it goes between the Bullets and the Sixers. The last time they met, in Philadelphia last month, the Bullets had the game in their hands in regulation, only to see Ron Anderson tie it up with a desperation three-pointer and force overtime, where the Sixers also won.
The loss ended the Bullets' winning streak at three, and dropped their record to 10-16, as they head back to the Capital Centre for tonight's 7:30 game against Seattle (HTS, WTOP-AM 1500). The Sonics beat Cleveland last night, 99-97.
But even though it was close in Cleveland, it couldn't have been any more entertaining than what the 12,066 fans saw at the Arena last night.
There were no horns to sound to announce the end of a quarter or substitutions, only whistles to blow.
The main scoreboard wouldn't work from the beginning, so the small, auxiliary boards on the side were pushed into service. When they went as wacky as an overloaded computer at the New York Stock Exchange, even the refs didn't know exactly what to do about ball possession, so they called a jump ball. When someone screamed at referee Jake O'Donnell that he was giving the Bullets a "Philly Job," he shot back, "I live in Florida."
And then there was Mike Gminski, who attempted to inbound the ball near halfcourt after Hawkins had blocked Walker's shot. He put up a high lob to Charles Barkley, who was surrounded. Gminski had hoped to throw it high and have it bounce off the backboard for a Barkley put back.
The only problem was when the ball bounced, it banked beautifully into the net. A no-no in the NBA.
"To be frank," said Philadelphia coach Jim Lynam, "for a couple of seconds, I thought it might count. I've never seen that. I'm sure you don't forget a thing like that."
That's the kind of night it was all around.
"Are you sure this isn't Halloween, instead of Christmas?" wondered Hawkins, who finished with 26 points, five assists.
From the Bullets' point of view, all of it tended to overshadow another intense performance by Pervis Ellison (13 rebounds, nine points, three blocks); stellar defense by Harvey Grant on Charles Barkley, who netted 35 points, but most from long range; Ledell Eackles (18 points) played 30 minutes and showed improvement, though he appeared to tire near the end, making several bad passes.
It also wiped out another offensive show by King, who is 10th in All-Star voting in the Eastern Conference among forwards. King, like Barkley, had 35 points, despite being double- and triple-teamed all night.
"The thing about Bernard is that no matter what you do to him, or how close you guard him, he goes up for his shot like you're not even there," said Hawkins, who tried to help Anderson and Barkley defend him. "You don't see a lot of guys score like that with other guys playing in their face."