Chapman hits high of 37, but Bullets lose to Cavs 3-point spree falls short in OT, 111-107

December 22, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets have been desperately searching for a go-to guy this season.

They found him last night in Rex Chapman, who ended a puzzling slump to score a career-high 37 points on 16-of-20 shooting, including five of six from three-point range.

Three of Chapman's bombs came in overtime, but somehow that wasn't enough as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Capital Centre shootout, 111-107, hitting all seven of their shots in the extra session.

It added up to a seventh straight loss for the Bullets (7-17), while the Cavaliers (14-11) extended their winning streak to six.

"My three-pointers were just falling," said Chapman, 25, playing his finest game as a Bullet since being acquired from Charlotte last February. "Early in the game, I was able to get to the basket rather easily. And then, in the second half and overtime, everything started to fall."

All told, the two teams made six three-pointers in the overtime, and their combined total of 37 points was only two short of the NBA overtime record set by Indiana and Golden State on March 31, 1991.

After Chapman's fourth three-pointer tied it at 104 with 55 seconds left, Cavaliers center Brad Daugherty (23 points, 12 rebounds) was fouled by Pervis Ellison on a drive.

Daugherty made the first of two free throws and missed the second. But forward Larry Nance beat the Bullets to the rebound and it proved extremely costly when Mark Price (31 points, 11 assists) swished a jumper for a three-point lead with 18 seconds left.

Craig Ehlo, who scored nine of his team's 21 points in overtime, put it out of reach 10 seconds later with two free throws.

"We played as hard as we could, but they hit some big-time shots in overtime," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "They penetrated and kicked the ball out to Price and Ehlo, who are great outside shooters."

But Unseld said it wasn't Cleveland's patented "inside-outside" game featuring Daugherty, Price and Ehlo that beat the Bullets, but rather the marked discrepancy on the foul line, where the Cavaliers outscored the Bullets 21-8.

"If you look it up, we outplayed them in every category but foul shooting," Unseld said. "That tells me we have to do a better job of going to the hole and getting fouled."

But that was only the major problem for the Bullets, who blew several opportunities to end their losing streak in regulation.

Leading 82-79 with six minutes left, they turned the ball over three straight times, allowing the Cavs to reclaim the lead, 90-86, on a Price three-pointer. But Chapman made consecutive baskets to forge a 90-90 tie with 28 seconds left.

The Bullets had another chance when Price shot a rare air ball. After calling timeout with 7 seconds left, Washington tried twice unsuccessfully to inbound the ball.

Finally, on a busted play, the Bullets got the ball into the hands of rookie forward Tom Gugliotta, whose off-balance shot was swatted away by Nance, forcing an overtime.

"We've just got to do a better job of executing down the stretch," said Harvey Grant, who finished with 20 points after a fretful start. "You can't turn the ball over 21 times and expect to beat TC team like Cleveland."

The Cavaliers, who have now beaten the Bullets six straight, always seemed to make the critical shot or grab the key rebound to hold off the Bullets.

"Go figure," said Price. "We couldn't score, [Cleveland shot 39 percent from the field in regulation], and then we couldn't miss in overtime. It was so funny, it made me laugh at the end.

"Chapman was simply awesome. I haven't seen a guy shoot like that in some time," Price added. "The Bullets are a lot better than their record shows."

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