All of the ingredients were there for another Philadelphia 76ers defeat. Charles Barkley, their best player, was in the hospital, and their big man, Jeff Ruland, did not suit up.
Furthermore, they had lost a bitter double-overtime battle at Indiana Tuesday night.
It should have been a breeze for the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night at Philadelphia.
But old pro Julius Erving had other ideas. He gathered six other healthy 76ers, and they outplayed the Bucks most of the way to score a 107-101 victory, only their second in four games this season.
Barkley, who fell hard in the final minute at Indiana after playing a brilliant game, was in the hospital because of internal bleeding. A CAT scan revealed the bleeding, but the cause was not determined. It is expected that Barkley will be out of action at least a week.
Ruland, obtained from Washington in the Moses Malone trade, is troubled by back and knee problems. His left knee, which was operated on after Ruland missed 97 games in the last two seasons, is bothering him again.
It was the Bucks, beaten Tuesday night at Atlanta, who seemed to be tired. They were outhustled and outfought by the undermanned 76ers. Philadelphia went in front early, led by nine at halftime and had something left after the Bucks cut the lead to 81-80 with 10 minutes remaining.
Two free throws by Erving and a jumper by Cliff Robinson got the 76ers going again.
All seven 76ers were in double figures. Erving and reserve center Tim McCormick each scored 18 points. Maurice Cheeks, who played 55 minutes against Indiana, had 14 points and 15 assists.
"After a day of bad news, we got a tremendous effort from our guys tonight," Coach Matt Guokas told UPI. "They had nothing but positive thoughts. Every once in a while, you enjoy the role of underdog. Our guys looked straight ahead and played our best game of the season."
Boston 133, Indiana 102--The Celtics, still smarting from a loss at Milwaukee Saturday night, took it out on the hapless Pacers at Boston.
With Larry Bird giving rookie Chuck Person a lesson, the Celtics broke on top and never looked back.
Although he sat out the last 14 minutes, Bird was guarded mainly by Person and made 14 of 20 shots. The Celtic star scored 38 points and had 11 rebounds in just 32 minutes.
"It was tough," Person said. "He has a lot of skills. But we were a little tired after two overtimes last night."
The Celtics have won 43 straight games at home.
San Antonio 112, New Jersey 103--Rookie Johnny Dawkins came off the bench to score 25 points and lead the Spurs to a surprise victory at East Rutherford, N.J.
Detroit 109, Washington 85--Joe Dumars scored eight points in a 15-0 run during the first quarter that enabled the Pistons to run away and hide from the Bullets (1-3) at Pontiac, Mich.
Utah 111, Cleveland 95--Darrell Griffith, who missed all of last season because of an injury, came off the bench at Salt Lake City to score 20 points and spark the Jazz to victory. Thurl Bailey had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Utah.
Golden State 102, Portland 92--Purvis Short scored 10 of his 31 points in the last six minutes at Oakland to break open a tight game. It was the third win in a row for the Warriors.