Bullets rebound to bounce Bucks, 121-98 Easy win follows 45-point loss in N.J.

January 13, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- It was an amazing reversal of fortune last night for the Washington Bullets, who rebounded from an embarrassing 45-point loss in New Jersey Saturday night to crush the Milwaukee Bucks, 121-98, before a slim crowd of 6,165.

This one was so easy that coach Wes Unseld pulled all of his starters with his team leading by 29 and close to eight minutes left to play.

There was much to like about this Bullets performance, particularly the interior passing, aggressive rebounding and unusually stubborn defense.

Michael Adams led the balanced offense with 22 points. Harvey Grant, who was nursing a thigh bruise, chipped in with 19 points. Rookie forward Tom Gugliotta made only two of eight shots, but contributed 11 rebounds for the Bullets (11-22)

Small forward Buck Johnson, who had been tagged as a likely casualty if Bernard King was re-activated, scored 12 points in a reserve role.

Lottery pick Todd Day led the Bucks (14-19) with 24 points.

When the Bucks got off to a surprising 9-3 start, new coach Mike Dunleavy warned that his young team was not as good as its record. He was right. The Bucks proceeded to lose 15 of their next 20 games.

"We're just playing like you expect a young team to play," Dunleavy said before last night's game.

"We've beaten good teams like the Knicks and Lakers and lost to some of the teams at the bottom. The only difference between now and our start is that early on everyone was playing well. Lately, we've been inconsistent."

The Bucks have suffered some injuries. Veteran guard Alvin Robertson has missed the last five games with back trouble and did not accompany the team. Milwaukee recently obtained rookie guard Jon Barry in a swap for center Alaa Abdelnaby.

The Bullets, who dug early holes for themselves in their last two losses to Philadelphia and New Jersey, started the same way against Milwaukee. Led by Blue Edwards, Frank Brickowski and rookie Anthony Avent, the Bucks jumped out to a 15-6 lead. But Adams and center Pervis Ellison triggered a Bullets comeback, with Ellison's layup putting the home team ahead 21-19.

After one quarter, Washington held a 25-24 lead.

The Bullets played aggressive defense and unleashed their fast break to boost their advantage to 42-32 on a breakaway slam by Larry Stewart.

Unseld made good use of his bench, with Johnson, Stewart, Doug Overton and Charles Jones all contributing to the Bullets' lead of 53-38.

The Bucks grew frustrated, and both Day and Dunleavy were leveled with technicals. By halftime, Washington had a comfortable 63-42 cushion.

The Bullets shot 59 percent from the field in the first half, led by Grant, who made eight of 12 shots in scoring 17 points. Milwaukee managed only 42 percent and did not have a player in double figures.

The Bucks were again being bullied on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 23-16. Gugliotta showed the way with six rebounds.

The Bullets also were consistently beating the Bucks down the floor. They had 13 fast-break points at halftime compared to one basket for the visitors.

Washington continued to dominate the action early in the third quarter. Grant and Ellison were having their way on the inside in padding the margin to 82-59.

But the Bucks, led by second-year point guard Eric Murdock, began pecking away. Two straight layups by Murdock cut the deficit to 82-65, causing Unseld enough concern to call a timeout.

The Bullets regrouped behind Ellison and Overton to stretch their lead to 90-67 after three quarters. Adams crammed nine points into the period and Gugliotta added five more rebounds despite struggling offensively.

Washington turned the fourth quarter into a layup drill as the Bucks appeared to be running in quicksand. Overton and Stewart took turns dunking home breakaways for a 100-71 cushion with 7:31 remaining.

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