Grant shoots Bullets past Clippers Scores 29 as hosts end three-game skid

January 12, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- Forward Harvey Grant has reclaimed his jump shot and the Washington Bullets regained their winning touch at the Capital Centre last night, beating the Los Angeles Clippers, 107-96, to end a three-game losing streak.

Grant, hampered by foot and back problems early in the season, scored 29 points to lead the Bullets for the third straight game.

He joined center Pervis Ellison (21 points, 11 rebounds) and reserve guard A.J. English in triggering a 10-0 run midway in the fourth quarter. It produced a 93-78 advantage for the Bullets, and the Clippers drew no closer than seven points in the last five minutes.

It was the fifth victory in 16 home games for the Bullets (13-21), but the aggressive Clippers made it difficult, grabbing 25 offensive rebounds to 11 by Washington.

Fortunately for the Bullets, the Clippers (18-19) resembled The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, hitting only 39 percent from the field (37-for-94) and also missing 11 of their 32 free throws.

The worst offenders were center James Edwards, making his first start in place of Olden Polynice, sidelined with a stomach disorder. Edwards made one of 13 shots in 32 minutes. Playmaker Doc Rivers, who, like Edwards, joined the Clippers this season, was only slightly better, hitting four of 12 shots.

It took a splendid effort by reserve forward Ken Norman (27 points, 12 rebounds) to keep the Clippers in contention.

The Bullets displayed better floor balance, with Michael Adams (22 points, 12 assists) ending a scoring slump, and English providing 16 points off the bench. Charles Jones lent strong defensive support, grabbing 12 rebounds in 16 minutes.

"Tonight, we didn't have an offensive lapse like we did recently against Chicago, New York and Cleveland, when we'd go six or seven minutes without making a basket," said English. "This time, even when our halfcourt offense broke down, we'd keep setting picks and running back-door plays until someone finally broke loose."

Mostly, it was Grant who made most of his baskets in the offensive flow.

"The last two games, Harvey has had a better understanding of what he's supposed to be doing out there," said coach Wes Unseld. "He doesn't have the bulk to post up most forwards. He's got to rely on his main asset, his quickness, to get points off movement and transition, and that's what he did tonight."

English, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency in recent weeks, and has become the Bullets' "sixth man" in providing instant offense.

Unable to generate a fast break because of the Clippers' strong rebounding, the Bullets were trapped in a 63-63 tie late in the third quarter when English hit three straight jumpers for a 69-64 lead, and the Bullets were never headed.

"A.J. has been a steady contributor for us the last 10 games or so," said Unseld. "He's not a great shooter, but he's a scorer, and he's learned to put himself in positions on the floor where he can score points consistently."

It was also English who started the clinching spurt in the fourth quarter after a jump shot by Rivers had the Clippers trailing 83-78. English answered with two straight layups, Adams converted a steal into a basket, Grant followed with two free throws, and Ellison climaxed the 10-0 run with a slam dunk off a behind-the back feed by English.

"That was really the game," said Ellison. "They were doing a great job crashing the boards with four or five guys and stopping our break. But we finally got going in the fourth quarter and made some easy baskets."

Still, Clippers coach Mike Shuler felt his team had more than enough opportunities to end its two-week road trip with a victory.

"We had more rebounds, more shots and less turnovers than the Bullets," Shuler noted. "But you can't win too many games shooting 39 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line."

When someone asked Shuler if the Clippers might have been fatigued after playing six straight on the road, he said, "That's bull. Every team in this league goes through the same thing during the season. And I don't look to make excuses."

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