Nets take off early in 124-108 Bullets rout All-Star lull welcome after 7th loss in row

February 07, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets have struggled to win games all season, unless, of course, New Jersey is providing the opposition.

The Bullets made it 3-0 against the Nets by cruising to their most lopsided victory, 124-108, before 6,412 at the Capital Centre last night. Washington finished its pre-All-Star Game play with a 16-31 mark. The Nets (19-28), performing like they were already on holiday, lost their seventh straight.

The Bullets starters played little more than half the game, but all scored in double figures, led by Harvey Grant's 22 points. Coach Wes Unseld let his reserves finish out the game after Washington rolled to a 97-69 lead after three quarters.

It was another night of frustration for New Jersey, which climbed back in the playoff hunt by winning 12 of 15 in January, only to hit its seven-game wall.

"Last month," said Nets coach Bill Fitch, "we were at the point where we were picking up for each other, getting good interaction. Then we headed west, and everything went blah."

Fitch had a chance to try a new look against the Bullets, with heralded rookie point guard Kenny Anderson filling in for veteran Mookie Blaylock, who was nursing a sore right knee that ultimately could require arthroscopic surgery.

Anderson, the second player selected in the 1991 NBA draft, was getting his first start. He had averaged only 16 minutes a game in a reserve role while adapting to the pro style.

"I kept telling Kenny that his time would come," said Fitch, "and that he should be a good Boy Scout and work extra hard in practice. The way the league is today, even Clark Kent couldn't come in as a rookie and make an immediate impact."

Unseld also made a lineup change. After starting LaBradford Smith for four games and watching the rookie struggle offensively, Unseld went back to defensive-minded David Wingate as Michael Adams' backcourt partner.

Anderson and Adams went at it early, with Anderson scoring six points in the first five minutes, but the Bullets taking a 16-12 lead.

Washington was beating the Nets down the floor for layups and dunks with the Nets settling for jump shots at the other end. Three straight baskets by Grant boosted the margin to 24-17.

Drazen Petrovic found his shooting touch and scored eight to trim the deficit to 33-30 after one quarter. Grant had 12 points for the Bullets, and Petrovic had 11 for the Nets.

The Bullets started the second quarter with a 12-2 run to increase their lead to 44-32 with both coaches playing their reserves. Washington's subs did a better job as A.J. English and Larry Stewart made it 50-36 as New Jersey struggled to score.

With most of the starters back on the floor, the Nets closed to 53-44. But consecutive baskets by Adams ended the Bullets' drought. By halftime, Washington was comfortably ahead, 66-51.

The Bullets continued to pad their advantage at the start of the second half. Grant and Adams sparked a 12-2 spree for a 78-53 cushion four minutes into the third quarter.

Adams was wheeling and dealing, scoring on acrobatic drives or dishing to Pervis Ellison and Tom Hammonds for slam dunks.

Leading 87-60, the Bullets began turning over the ball with regularity. But the Nets could not put any kind of a streak together, with forwards Derrick Coleman and Chris Morris settling for three-point attempts.

Even with their reserves playing most of the period, the Bullets boosted their lead to 97-69.

Unseld was confident enough to give his reserves extended play in the fourth quarter, even letting third-string center Greg Foster make a rare appearance, going head-to-head with former Bullets back-up Dave Feitl.

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