Bullets' problems were Jazz, not plane

December 05, 1990|By Alan Goldstein

Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld refused to use the plane troubles his team experienced on the way to Salt Lake City as an excuse for the 135-101 drubbing by the Utah Jazz at the Salt Palace on Monday night.

"The plane trip had nothing to do with it," said Unseld, referring to Sunday afternoon's forced landing in Denver after an engine blew on their United flight.

"We were never in this game. The Jazz shot so well, they blew us out in the first five minutes."

By that time, Utah, which has won six of its past seven games, had rolled to 22-2 lead, and Washington (5-11) never threatened to make a game of it.

The two Malones -- forward Karl and guard Jeff -- combined for 66 points to lead the rout. It was Jeff Malone's first appearance against his former teammates since the three-team June trade that moved Pervis Ellison to Washington from Sacramento.

But it was the inside power game of Karl Malone (38 points, 15 rebounds) that caused the Bullets the most problems.

"He's a great player, but we could have done a better job defending him," Unseld said. "We didn't 'body-up' to him the way we should have."

If nothing else, the lopsided game gave Unseld a chance to give substantial minutes to his lesser-played reserves -- guards A.J. English and Byron Irvin and rookie center Greg Foster.

Foster scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes. One of his field goals came on a slam dunk while rebounding against 7-foot-5 Utah center Mark Eaton.

Irvin, the second-year guard who is seemingly battling injured rookie Larry Robinson for the last roster spot, responded with 16 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes, driving aggressively to the basket.

Veteran guard Ledell Eackles, who missed the team's first 11 games while getting into playing condition, twisted his ankle against the Jazz and is doubtful for tonight's game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

If Eackles' injury is more serious than first suspected, Robinson could be re-activated.

NOTES: F Harvey Grant, notified by the league that he had been fined $4,000 for instigating a bench-clearing brawl against the Pistons Saturday night at the Capital Centre, protested the size of the fine. "I don't think it's fair," he said. "No punches were thrown. There was just some shoving between me and Joe Dumars."

Bullets G Darrell Walker, who exchanged shoves with Pistons C Bill Laimbeer, received a $1,500 fine. Bullets F-C Greg Foster was fined $2,000 for leaving the bench. Five Pistons -- G Dumars, F Dennis Rodman, F James Edwards, F Mark Aguirre and F-C William Bedford -- were fined. Rodman's $1,500 fine was the biggest.

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