Bullets are playing short, as injured stay at home

December 03, 1991|By Alan Goldstein

After receiving the latest medical update, Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld realizes no immediate help is on the way. His depleted team concludes its western swing tonight in Seattle and tomorrow night in Utah.

Injuries to forward Tom Hammonds (groin), guard Michael Adams (dislocated finger) and guard LaBradford Smith (ankle) have reduced Unseld's traveling squad to 10.

Playing short-handed, the Bullets (6-10) whipped the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and nearly stole another victory in Portland Sunday before bowing, 91-87.

Unseld hoped that Hammonds, on the injured list for six games, might rejoin the team in Portland. But team orthopedist Steve Haas advised Hammonds to remain home after examining him yesterday morning.

"Dr. Haas feels it's better if I rest it [the groin] a few more days," said Hammonds, averaging 14 points. "In that way, I could be ready to play against Detroit [at home] Friday night."

Adams, who dislocated the middle finger on his left (non-shooting) hand against Boston Nov. 25, tried to play against the Clippers Sunday and injured the knuckle on the same hand, causing renewed swelling.

The Bullets said Adams still was experiencing pain yesterday.

Smith, the No. 1 draft pick from Louisville, has played only five minutes all season. He is favoring his left ankle and is labeled day-to-day.

Unseld will check out his three convalescents during a team shoot-around at the Capital Centre Friday morning before planning any roster moves. If Hammonds comes off the injured list, someone will have to replace him.

In the meantime, Unseld is trying to get the most out of his depleted squad. Against Portland, 7-foot-4 reserve center Ralph Sampson got his longest stint as a Bullet since joining the team, Nov. 19.

Unseld rated his play "encouraging" as Sampson, the forgotten man in Sacramento the past two years, scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds in 14 minutes. In one brief stretch, he teamed with starting center Pervis Ellison, giving the Bullets their version of the "Twin Towers."

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