When Porter is driving well, everything is go in the Washington offense, and the Bullets began dismantling the Buffalo defense.
Still, Washington had a few problems of its own. Riordan, who averaged 15.4 points during the regular season, was unable to shake his scoring slump, and was replaced by Nick Weatherspoon. The lanky second-year man out of Illinois had the responsibility of stopping McAdoo, who at one time or another in the series had been guarded by everyone in Washington but Nancy Kissinger.
"It's a challenge," said Weatherspoon, "but I love challenges in basketball. McAdoo is such a great player all you can do is try to contain him."
McAdoo scored 34 points.
"But it was a bad 34," Ramsay said later. "Any time you hit on only 13 of 35 shots, you are taking bad shots. We're all taking bad shots."
At halftime Washington led by only a point, 53-52, and the game was still waiting to be broken open. And then, as it had in the first game, came the third-quarter spurt. Chenier, who had scored nothing in the first quarter and only four points in the second, had 18 in the third and 10 of the Bullets' last 12 to move them into an 81-70 lead. He finished with 28, Hayes with 30, and the final score of the third game was 111-96.
Again, Unseld and Hayes were busy on the boards, including the offensive end, and when they didn't come down in complete control, they still were managing to keep the ball alive for a teammate.
"When you can control the ball for 35 or 40 seconds at a time with second and third shots, that puts an awful lot of pressure on the other team's defense," said Chenier. "And even if you don't eventually score, they are so tired from playing defense it slows down their running game."
No longer suffering from overconfidence, the Braves climbed out of bed at 5:30 the next morning, flew to Buffalo, and by 11 were at the Auditorium. For 35 minutes they looked at a film of the previous night's defeat, and then they listened to a 45-minute lecture from Ramsay. After that they practiced.
"We've been relying too much on bursts," said Ramsay. "We've got to be able to do things when we're not getting the rebounds to trigger the fast break."