Bullets may have deserved win, but SuperSonics get it.

December 04, 1991|By Steve Turcotte | Steve Turcotte,Special to The Evening Staff

SEATTLE -- Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld clearly was upset. He picked up a table outside his locker room and slammed it down before answering reporter's questions.

"We deserved to win. We outplayed them," Unseld said.

The Bullets led for most of the NBA game last night, but the Seattle SuperSonics led when it counted.

Gary Payton's 15-foot jump shot with 7.4 seconds left lifted the Sonics to a 91-90 victory at the Coliseum, keeping Washington winless in Seattle for the 12th straight time.

"The Bullets deserved to win," Sonics forward Eddie Johnson said. "That's about as ugly a game as you'll have, but to get the win in a game like this you have to feel good."

A.J. English had given Washington a 90-89 lead with 30.6 seconds left on a 15-foot jumper, but Payton's shot, with one second left on the shot clock, gave the Sonics the game.

"It was a broken play," Payton said. "The clock was running down and I had to shoot."

Washington then had two chances to win. English missed a driving shot that Seattle's Michael Cage rebounded. Cage threw the ball away, but Harvey Grant's shot missed at the buzzer.

Grant had 33 points for the Bullets (6-11), who lost for the second straight time. Ricky Pierce led Seattle (9-7) with 26 and Johnson added 23. The Bullets have not won in Seattle since 1980.

Bullets center Pervis Ellison, averaging 19.8 points, did not play because of a sore right knee.

It was an incredible effort by the Bullets, who played without their two leading scorers, guard Michael Adams (dislocated finger) and center Pervis Ellison, who stayed out with a sore right knee.

With just nine healthy players, the Bullets nearly pulled off their second victory on this West Coast trip.

"When you outplay a team for 44 minutes, you're supposed to win," said English, who had eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. "We just let them back in the game."

The Bullets were in a position to blow the Sonics out in the third quarter. Washington turned a 51-43 halftime lead into a 61-47 advantage with 8 minutes, 52 seconds left on three straight baskets by Grant.

But Grant wasn't finished. He proceeded to destroy the Sonics single-handedly in the quarter, hitting his first six shots from the floor before finishing with 14 points.

A basket by Grant with 5:55 left in the quarter put Washington ahead, 67-53.

Washington still led, 73-60, with two minutes left in the quarter on another shot by Grant, but the Sonics finished with an 8-0 run to get close.

Cage started the run with a dunk, Pierce followed with a 15-foot jumper and Johnson capped it off with two straight baskets to make it 73-68 after three quarters. Johnson had 12 points in the quarter for the Sonics.

"The hustle, the scratching, the biting," said Seattle coach K.C. Jones. "That's what saved us."

Bullets preview

VS. UTAH JAZZ

* When: Tonight, 9:30

* Where: Delta Center, Salt Lake City

* TV/Radio: None; WTOP-AM (1500)

* Outlook: This is the final stop on the Bullets' 4-game western swing. Washington has lost 9 straight to the Jazz, including a 107-98 decision at the Capital Centre Nov. 16, when former Bullets G Jeff Malone scored a game-high 28 points. F Karl Malone leads Utah with a 29.3 scoring average. G John Stockton is averaging 14.1 assists, and C Mark Eaton is averaging 3 blocks. Last week, the Jazz traded F Thurl Bailey to Minnesota for F Tyrone Corbin.

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