Bullets awaken, see through Magic tricks

March 04, 1992|By ASSOCAITED PRESS

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Washington used its half-court press on Orlando and Magic coach Matt Guokas said his team didn't come out smelling like roses.

The Bullets forced 12 turnovers in the second quarter to spark a 106-93 victory over Orlando last night. Guokas said his team's collapse was one of the worst performances he has seen.

"I'm not ranking them, but this one was rank," he said. "It was a stinko, no question."

The Magic blew a nine-point lead in the final 1:07 of the first half by committing five turnovers when harried by the half-court press. The Bullets outscored Orlando 12-0 in the final 67 seconds to lead 60-57 at halftime. Orlando never got a shot off in its last five possessions.

Orlando had 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 17 points.

Not only did the press take a toll on the Magic, but a second-half adjustment to double-team rookie center Stanley Roberts put Orlando's offense out of synch.

Roberts hit all seven of his shots in the first half when the Magic posted him under the basket. But he was limited to just five shots, missing four, in the second half.

Washington's swarming defense also held Orlando to 15 baskets on 46 shots in the second half.

The victory, paced by Pervis Ellison's 19 points, was the Bullets' 11th on the road this year, three more than Washington has won at home. The Bullets are the only NBA team with a better road record.

Ledell Eackles and Larry Stewart added 18 points to the win, while Roberts and Terry Catledge each had 19 for Orlando.

Both teams agreed the half-court press was the turning point.

"I think the turnovers before the end of the half turned the tempo of the game," Eackles said. "Early in the game, they brought it to us. When we went to our press, that put us back in the game. It was the big turning point."

Bullets coach Wes Unseld said the key to the press was not using it too early, or too often. Washington played at Detroit on Monday night, so he made sure he didn't wear his team out with the full-court pressure.

"I thought Pervis was tired and it showed," he said. "I did not want to go to the press too much because of playing last night and traveling. But it worked. It was the key. It put us back in the game."

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