Rodman, Pistons leave Bullets in the dark, 99-97 Washington's skid hits nine

Arena suffers power outage

December 27, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Two events that unfolded at the Baltimore Arena last night were all too predictable.

The Washington Bullets found a way to blow a fourth-quarter lead and lose their ninth straight game, 99-97, to the Detroit Pistons, and the 30-year-old arena suffered a power outage in the final eight minutes.

A bank of lights on the west side of the arena short-circuited this time, but the teams elected to continue to play with less wattage available.

It seemed like a good decision by the Bullets when they gained an 85-76 lead with a little more than four minutes left. But anyone who has watched the team this disastrous December sensed it was only seeking a new scenario to let a victory slip through its fingers.

This time, Dennis Rodman proved the villain. A terror on the boards for Detroit since his suspension was lifted Nov. 24, the 6-foot-8 forward grabbed 22 rebounds, including three critical offensive boards in the last 90 seconds that led to vital Pistons points.

The lead changed hands three times in the final minute, with Pervis Ellison twice putting Washington ahead by a point with baseline jump shot -- his last providing a 97-96 edge with 19 seconds remaining.

But with 11 seconds left, Michael Adams, who had twice swiped the ball from rival point guard Isiah Thomas in the fourth quarter, gambled again and lost.

Adams reached in, but made enough contact to draw a whistle. Thomas converted the two free throws for a 98-97 lead.

The Bullets (7-19) still had plenty of time to work for the winning shot, with Ellison again the principal target. Using a back screen by Adams, the slender center broke loose underneath for an instant for what was to be a lob pass. But rookie forward Tom Gugliotta was a bit late in recognizing the opening, and Rodman deflected his pass out of bounds.

"Pervis was one of our options, and I just didn't get him the ball soon enough," said Gugliotta.

Now, with seven seconds left, Adams tried to work a pick and roll with Harvey Grant that failed to materialize.

Instead, the 5-foot-10 guard double-pumped on a drive to the hoop, but his floater around Rodman tipped off the front of the rim. Rodman flared back to grab the crucial rebound and was fouled, adding the insurance free throw, giving Detroit (13-11) its 11th victory in the past 13 games.

Asked if a lack of execution led to the latest frustrating loss, Bullets coach Wes Unseld said: "No, that wasn't the problem. What really hurt us was allowing all those boards. They kept rebounding the ball and turning them into three-point plays."

There was some finger-pointing in the Bullets' locker room after the team matched its longest losing streak since the franchise shifted to Washington. The last time the Bullets lost nine straight was in 1984, but the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets still hold the dubious record of 13 in a row.

Grant suggested that Rex Chapman should have hammered Terry Mills before allowing the beefy Pistons forward to make a layup with 32 seconds left that developed into a three-point play and a 95-95 tie.

"That was an excellent pass by Isiah," said Mills, acquired as a free agent in the off-season. "I just wanted to power it up strong to the basket because I had my last shot blocked."

But that was only one of a number of defensive gaffes by the Bullets down the stretch. In addition to Rodman, they allowed the Pistons' veteran backcourt tandem of Thomas and Joe Dumars sneak underneath for rebounds.

Dumars, who led Detroit with 23 points, ignited the Pistons' rally with a three-point play off an offensive rebound. That started a 7-0 run by the visitors that tied the game at 91.

But in the end, the Bullets simply did not find a way to keep Rodman from doing his rebounding specialty that has made him an NBA All-Star.

"I know the officials won't call three seconds on him," said Unseld. "It seems he does nothing but hang around the basket looking for rebounds. Maybe they don't see him. But we never got a body on him to stop him from rebounding. He killed us."

Bullets' losing streak

Date Opponent Score

Dec. 10 at Utah 112-96

Dec. 11 at L.A. Lakers 118-93

Dec. 13 at Portland 117-98

Dec. 15 at Phoenix 125-110

Dec. 17 Chicago 107-99

Dec. 19 Charlotte 126-117

Dec. 21 Cleveland 111-107 (OT)

Dec. 23 at Chicago 107-98

Dec. 26 Detroit (at Balt.) 99-97

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