Bullets fly in first half, but flop in second, 117-98

December 14, 1992|By Bill Mulflur | Bill Mulflur,Contributing Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Washington Bullets made a serious mistake when they embarrassed the Portland Trail Blazers for a half in their cozy coliseum last night.

After a 2-2 tie, Washington shocked the Blazers with a 16-1 run and controlled the game for the first half.

With reserves Cliff Robinson and Rod Strickland leading the way, Portland woke up in the second half and strolled to a 117-98 win over the Bullets in Memorial Coliseum.

Washington lost its third straight game and fell to 7-13 after the fourth game of a five-game road trip against Western Conference teams.

"I liked the way we started, but I didn't like the way we finished," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "I don't think it was a case of our being tired so much. They just made us run out of gas. I hoped we would react better than we did, but we didn't."

Portland stopped a two-game losing streak and moved its mark to 13-6, good for second place in the Pacific Division, 1 1/2 games behind Phoenix.

After Washington's Harvey Grant, who scored a career-high 37 points, opened the second half with a basket, Robinson made two jumpers and two lay-ins to fuel a 12-0 Portland run that gave the Blazers a 64-63 lead.

The game was last at issue after Tom Gugliotta's jumper from the corner tied the score at 70.

Portland scored the next eight points on its way to a 16-4 run that ended the third period with the Blazers leading 86-74.

Robinson scored 14 of his career-high 32 points in the quarter and Strickland added eight as Portland buried the Bullets 34-13 in the period.

Grant was on fire from the start. The Bullets opened with an 18-3 spurt. Grant scored from the corner, on a free throw, from 12 feet and a with a lay-in on a fast-break pass from Gugliotta to fuel the opening burst.

Portland scored the next six points, but the Bullets three times had an 11-point lead, the last just before the end of the period when Mario Elie's three-pointer cut Washington's lead to 32-24 after one period.

The Blazers made a run at the Bullets, twice cutting the edge to four points in the second period.

But Grant came back from a four-minute rest to score eight of the Bullets' next 10 points, the last on a 20-footer from the top of the key that opened up a 52-46 lead.

Michael Adams scored twice in the closing minutes of the half to open a 59-50 lead for the Bullets.

After Robinson scored on a home roll off the rim, the Blazers showed little respect for Grant and gave him a wide-open 18-footer with 3.2 seconds left that gave the Bullets a 61-52 lead at the half.

Grant scored 24 points in the half, one more than the Blazer starters, by making 10 of 13 field goal attempts and all four free throws.

"My shots were falling in the first half, but I couldn't get them to fall in the second half," Grant said. "They put a lot of pressure on us, and when you get down by 15 in this building it's to hard to catch up.

"We knew they were going to make a third-quarter run, but we didn't respond very well," Grant said. "We didn't play good defense. Cliff Robinson really charged them up. He's their go-to guy now whenever he comes in."

Robinson, who defended Grant in the second half, said: "I wanted to deny him the ball and get my body on him. I had to be active to fight through the picks he used in the first half."

Portland out-rebounded the Bullets 47-31, including 16 on offense.

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