Being center of inattention doesn't block Jones from contributing

February 08, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

LANDOVER -- Charles Jones' normal line in a box score looks like it belongs to a last-minute substitute rather than a starting center.

In an era that gauges players by the number of times they achieve a "triple-double," Jones is the master of anonymity, the "triple-zip."

Jones has never scored 20 points in his eight-year NBA career. He has never attempted more than 13 shots in a game. His career-highs wouldn't register a triple-double.

Yet, the 6-foot-9 Jones has been the Washington Bullets' starting center in 47 of 48 games. He is averaging 25 minutes, six rebounds, three points and two blocks per game.

Fortunately those numbers mean nothing to Wes Unseld, a coach who can best appreciate what Jones brings to the court. During his Hall of Fame career, Unseld was a master of the nuances of the game that went unnoticed by the masses.

"A lot of the things C.J. does don't show up on the stat sheet," said Unseld. He used the third quarter of the Bullets' 124-117 win over New Jersey as a prime example.

Despite 29 of an eventual 47 points by Bernard King and a sizzling 10-assist effort by A.J. English -- all in the first half -- the Bullets found themselves trailing by eight in the early minutes of the third quarter last night. It was at that point that Jones made his presence felt.

"His minutes made the difference in our coming back," said Unseld. "What he did actually got us back in the game."

What Jones did was block three shots in an intimidating six-minute stretch and make an alert steal that led to a three-point play and four-point lead. When the period ended, Jones had scored all of his five points, matched his career-high with five blocks -- and made his exit.

By then the Bullets had a six-point lead and Pervis Ellison kept up the pace in the fourth quarter, allowing Unseld to keep Jones on the bench for the final 12 minutes.

"It really doesn't matter how many minutes you get as long as you win," said Jones, 33. "You just have to make the most of them."

With Darrell Walker and Haywoode Workman sidelined with injuries, English made the most of his third start of the year. The rookie, who is normally a shooting guard, finished with a career-high 11 assists to go with 13 points.

"I was playing at point guard," said English, "and when you're there you have to get everybody involved."

Ledell Eackles, who has been slow to regain form after a preseason holdout, made up for a sluggish first half with a solid 19-minute effort in the second half. "He showed what we've been trying to get him to do for some time," said Unseld.

Eackles had all 13 of his points and five of his six assists in the final two periods.

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