BOSTON -- With 7 minutes, 38 seconds left in the third quarter of yesterday's game between the Washington Bullets and Boston Celtics, starting forward Bernard King took himself out of the game and shortly after was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he underwent tests.
The Bullets never recovered from the loss of the National Basketball Association's third-leading scorer and were handed a 119-101defeat by the Celtics. Washington finished the game with only six healthy players.
With the Bullets trailing, 82-62, in the third quarter, coach Wes Unseld called a timeout. After the timeout, King walked to midcourt, then rushed back to the bench. The Bullets called a 20-second timeout. King then was attended to by Bullets trainer John Lally.
"I wasn't aware he was hurting up to that point," Unseld said. "When he asked for a timeout, I knew something was wrong because BK doesn't breathe hard. He asked the trainer for an ammonia capsule and tried to go back on the court but felt he couldn't do it."
King was seen briefly by Celtics team physician Arnold Scheller in the locker room. It was then decided King should be taken to the hospital.
A statement released by Bullets public relations director Rick Moreland said King experienced dizziness and an erratic heartbeat, which is why he was taken to the hospital.
Moreland said the problem did not appear serious. He said King told him that doctors said the condition "was a one-time thing" and was not the result of heart problems.
The Bullets did not have a practice scheduled for today. If there had been a session set, King would have been able to take part, Moreland said.
Said Unseld: "They don't think it's anything serious. Bernard seemed to be hyperventilating. He was having trouble breathing. He had a possible allergic reaction."
A spokesman at the hospital confirmed that King underwent tests in the emergency room and was treated and released shortly thereafter. The spokesman said hospital rules prohibit releasing information regarding patients.
The Bullets players who remained at the Boston Garden had no idea King was hurting.
"I couldn't believe it," Bullets forward Harvey Grant said. "He was playing so good, I was shocked when I saw him leave the floor."
King finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes.
The loss of King was devastating to the Bullets, who started the game with just seven healthy players. Missing were Ledell Eackles with the flu, Mark Alarie with a scratched eye, Haywoode Workman with a pulled groin muscle and Charles Jones with a hamstring injury.
"We called a 20-second timeout, turned around and no Bernard," the Bullets' A.J. English said. "It's crazy. "We've lost half the team in the last couple of days."
The wear and tear took its toll, and the Bullets scored just two points in the opening six minutes of the last quarter.
"They definitely looked tired," said Celtics guard Dee Brown, who had eight assists.
Grant finished with 20 points, but English (17 points, seven assists) provided the spark for the Bullets.
"A.J. played 45 minutes and worked his tail off," Unseld said. "But he's going to have to get used to that. Our staff is depleted. It's possible we'll get some people in for 10-day contracts, but probably not anyone we'd go with."
Former Dunbar High star Reggie Lewis led the Celtics with 30 points. Kevin McHale added 20 and Kevin Gamble 18.
The Bullets played a strong first half, trailing by 12 at the break. After King went down, they played as long as their legs held out, and each time the Celtics made a run, the Bullets would chip away at the lead.
Washington trailed by 19 points with 7:43 left in the third but cut the lead to seven with 1:43 left in the quarter.
"They've given us problems ever since I've been here," Gamble said. "They never give up, and you have to give them credit."