Erving hit a long jumper. Portland got the ball quickly down to Neal all alone under the basket for what players call a cripple. But Neal missed it. Mix had the rebound, rifled it to Free who hit Jones for a slam dunk that gave the Sixers a 83-76 lead. There was no stopping Free and Philly now. Two more lightning breaks including a genuine All-World sky dunk followed before the 76er surge finally ended at 16 straight points. By the time Ramsay got around to bringing Walton back, 1:20 into the fourth period, the Sixers had outscored the Blazers 25-4 in less than five minutes.
Philadelphia continued to pour it on in the perfunctory fourth quarter, out-scoring Portland 20-2 off the fast break alone, and cruising home with a 122-100 victory.
Cunningham, now sounding more like a coach than a TV man, said, "It sure was more than I expected," while McGinnis (24 points, 50% shooting) emitted platitudes about love and togetherness. Free (17 points, seven assists) ran around shouting to his teammates, "Wasn't I super, George? Wasn't I super, Doc?" Erving, icepacks on knees, took the whole thing in stride. "No surprise," he said. "Satisfying, of course, but just another win."
Down the hall Portland's Lucas said, "What did it prove? Have they got the best record?"
Philadelphia didn't and it was, after all, only one game. But it was a game the Sixers had owed their fans and themselves for quite a while, and they finally paid the debt.