Drexler blazes by Bullets Upset by loss to Nets, he scores 36 in 117-96 win

February 29, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER — 2/3 TC LANDOVER -- After suffering an embarrassing loss to the lowly Nets in New Jersey on Thursday night, Portland Trail Blazers captain Clyde Drexler spent the short flight to Washington and yesterday's pre-game shoot-around at the Capital Centre trashing his teammates.

"Everyone had his say, but Clyde did most of the talking and held us all accountable," said reserve guard Danny Ainge. "After talking all that trash, he had to back it up with a strong performance tonight."

Drexler did that and more, scoring 26 of his game-high 36 point in the second half to help the Blazers blitz the Washington Bullets, 117-96.

For the capacity crowd of 18,756 -- a franchise record 11t sellout this season -- the script was all too familiar. Led by Michael Adams' 19 first-half points, the Bullets enjoyed a 50-48 lead at halftime.

But the already injury-depleted frontcourt was left a man shorte when starting forward Harvey Grant reported to work with a strained right knee.

The Blazers, one of the best rebounding teams in the leagueoverwhelmed the Bullets on the boards 51-31, using the advantage to unleash their explosive fast break. Drexler, Terry Porter (23 points) and Cliff Robinson (13 points) consistently beat the Bullets down the floor for uncontested shots.

were all embarrassed by losing to the Nets," said Drexler, who appointed himself team captain this season. "Especially the way they out- rebounded us [64-38] without [Sam] Bowie and Derrick Coleman. Yeah, we did a lot of talking on the way to Washington, but I considered it constructive criticism."

Whatever, it evidently aroused the Blazers (39-17), who are in three-team fight with the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns for the Pacific Division title.

After making only three of nine shots in the first half, Drexle jammed 18 into the third quarter when the Blazers shot 67 percent from the field and outscored the Bullets 38-21 to forge an 86-71 lead.

The margin ballooned to 98-78 early in the fourth quarter, and threst of the game became Showtime, as Drexler and Robinson took turns making breathtaking dunks.

Snubbed by the U.S. Olympic selection committee, Drexler i enjoying his finest all-round season as a nine-year NBA veteran, leading his team in scoring average (25.2) and assists per game (6.6).

Bullets coach Wes Unseld started defensive specialist Davi Wingate on Drexler, and Wingate enjoyed a measure of success in controlling the All-Star guard. But once the Bullets fell behind, Unseld was forced to sacrifice defense for offense, and Drexler took quick advantage of matchups against Ledell Eackles and A. J. English.

"Clyde started hitting his jump shot," said Wingate. "When player with his ability begins hitting deep tough shots with that accuracy, it's good night -- you can't do anything about it."

Portland coach Rick Adelman, who was taking no chances ileaving Drexler and Porter on the floor with the Blazers leading by 19 and less than three minutes remaining, credited Drexler with taking over the game after an uninspired first half.

"In the first half, we weren't getting back on defense and Adam was getting a lot of open shots," Adelman said.

"But in the second half, we stepped up our intensity on defense and rebounding, and then Clyde was just awesome in the second half. He has that ability to explode and take over a game at any time. That's why he should be the league MVP and an Olympian."

It all added up to a fourth straight home loss for the Bullet (18-39), who have dropped 16 of their past 20 and all but assured themselves a place in the NBA lottery drawing May 17.

"How do we work on our morale?" Unseld said in response to question of team unity. "I'll work on that [today] before we play the 76ers. But first I'll let my guys lick their wounds."

NOTES: Bullets C Pervis Ellison, complaining of a shortness of breath the past week, underwent stress tests by team doctor Herb Singer and was declared physically fit yesterday. However, Ellison played with a stress monitor last night. It slipped off several times during the game, forcing Ellison to seek repairs in the dressing room. "He had some breathing problems tonight," said Unseld

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