Bullets rebound to beat the Heat, 100-93 Stewart leads way with 16 off boards

January 03, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- After winning second-team all-rookie honors last season, reserve forward Larry Stewart has had a difficult time adjusting to his diminished role with the Washington Bullets this season.

But the former Coppin State star stepped front and center at the Capital Centre last night, contributing a career-high 16 rebounds and 13 points, as the Bullets started the new year with a 100-93 victory over the Miami Heat.

"Larry gave us a big lift, not only with his rebounding and inside scoring," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "We kind of lost control out there early in the first half when we committed a lot of unforced errors, but Larry slowed things down and gave us some stability."

Most of all, the 6-foot-8 forward gave Washington (9-20) a decisive 67-44 rebounding edge.

In the second quarter, Stewart grabbed 11 rebounds, only two fewer than Miami had at halftime when it held a 55-52 lead.

But the Heat (8-19), which started the first quarter by hitting 15 of 21 shots (71 percent) with Glen Rice contributing 11 points, cooled off quickly.

By the fourth quarter, Miami was positively frigid, scoring only six points in the first 10 minutes of the period.

Two straight hoops by Stewart gave the Bullets a 95-83 lead, and it took a three-point shot by Keith Askins with 17 seconds left to create the seven-point final margin.

Washington hardly helped itself by converting only 19 of 33 free throws. Stewart was the chief culprit, going 1-for-6 from the foul line, but that was his only shortcoming.

"It felt like there was a lid on the basket," he said. "I've been spending extra time practicing free throws, but it looks like I'm going to have to put even more time in this week."

Asked about his big night on the boards, he said: "The ball was just bouncing my way. Just say I was in the right place at the right time."

For the fifth time in six games, all five Bullets starters scored in double figures. Pervis Ellison, Harvey Grant and Michael Adams scored 16 points apiece, and Tom Gugliotta and Rex Chapman chipped in with 14 each.

Ellison, who has come on strong the past two weeks after being slowed by a sprained knee, also contributed a game-high 17 rebounds.

"It wasn't a pretty game," said Grant, "but the way things have been going for us, we'll take wins any way we can get them.

"The difference tonight was that everyone did their job. Guys played unselfishly, setting picks and finding the open man. If we keep doing those things, we'll turn it around."

The Bullets may have also gotten an emotional lift from the presence of Bernard King, who sat on the bench in civilian clothes.

King, who missed all of last season after knee surgery, engaged in a pre-game shoot-around and could rejoin the team later this week if he receives medical approval.

The Heat, playing without point guard Steve Smith, who is also recovering from knee surgery, looked out of sync, particularly in the second half when it shot only 32 percent from the field. The Heat has lost 11 of 13 road games this season.

"In my rookie year," said Bimbo Coles, "we played aggressively and it was fun. But this year we just haven't stepped up."

Said Rice, who was held to five points in the second half: "We should have beaten this team, but they just outplayed us in spurts. We're just not as hungry as we were when we made the playoffs last year."

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