The twin towers of the Seattle front line, who had combined for only 13 points and six rebounds in the first half, thoroughly wasted Walton and Lucas in the second, ganging up for 29 points and 14 rebounds. Webster was to finish with 24 points while Sikma embarrassed Lucas 18 points to eight.
When Walton was replaced by Tom Owens late in the third quarter, Portland led by three points. By the time Walton returned, the champions were behind by eight, and immediately Webster blocked two consecutive Walton hooks, spreading chalk dust through his counterpart's red hair. Meanwhile Lionel Hollins and Lucas had 20 misses in 27 tries—and Seattle had an easier-than-it-sounds 104-95 victory.
In addition to their physical woes, the Blazers appeared to be confused, a condition not improved by Coach Jack Ramsay's grim though inaccurate dig at the Sonics. "A lot of teams would have beaten us in the first game," said Ramsay. "Maybe every team." It was Portland's first home playoff loss ever—the team won 10 straight there last year. The Blazers' subsequent two days of practice were equally flat.
Walton did not run at all as he rested up for Game Two by polishing his blue Falcon racing bike in the locker room and avoiding the media. "I'm fine," the Portland star would reply to all queries. Or "Ask the coach." Or "Got to go now." Or "You want some juice?"
For his part, Wilkens—a quiet chap with a disconcertingly beatific countenance—was in a unique position. He had coached the Blazers during Walton's first two years, when the big man was chronically injured, and he had drafted both Gross and Hollins before being fired. "I'm not a vindictive person," Wilkens said before the second game. "I rooted for the Blazers last year."
At one point last Friday night, it seemed that time had about expired for the Blazers this year. Williams scored 21 points over and around Johnny Davis, and Seattle took a 49-40 lead at intermission. Walton again had started strongly, scoring four quick baskets, but with about 4� minutes to go in the first half he went up to block a Sikma jump shot and came down all twisted and wrong. For the next few minutes he couldn't even wobble anymore. "Get the butazolidin," somebody said as Walton dragged himself off the court for what proved to be the final time in 1978.
But the Blazers are strong-willed, prideful and admirably courageous. Davis redeemed himself with 13 third-quarter points; replacing Walton, the fired-up Owens beat Webster time and again to the glass; and Lucas, displaying some savage, overplaying defense, which must have made Sikma wish he was back on the farm at Illinois Wesleyan, turned the tables on the rookie, 19-8 in points, 14-9 in rebounds.
Even so, the Sonics had a four-point lead, 91-87, with 3:25 remaining and should have been able to hold on to win. But Hollins and Lucas hit key jumpers down the stretch and Portland survived 96-93.
Even before hearing Saturday afternoon's terrible news—Walton had fractured a bone in his left ankle—Lucas said, "We wish Bill could play, but the game goes on. Webster is playing the best of his life, but can he stay psyched against Tom Owens? We can beat these guys without Bill."
That did not seem likely. Not after Webster cleaned off all the backboards; after John Johnson broke out of his series-long shooting slump (three for 17) and began pumping in his funny line-drive shots; after the Sonics out-rebounded the Blazers by an astounding 71-40 to run away and win Game Three, 99-84.