Bullets give Celtics gift, lose, 98-93

January 14, 1993|By Jeff Horrigan | Jeff Horrigan,Contributing Writer

BOSTON -- On second thought, Bernard King might want to thank Washington Bullets management for not activating him.

His knee might have made it through last night's 98-93 defeat to the Boston Celtics, but there's no telling how much damage his mental well-being would have suffered had he been an active part of the Bullets' mind-boggling past five days.

Washington, which followed up its worst defeat of the season Saturday at New Jersey with a 23-point blowout win over Milwaukee Tuesday, blew a 13-point lead last night after outplaying Boston throughout.

The Bullets collapsed in the final 17 minutes, extending Boston's season-high winning streak to seven. They hit only eight of 20 field-goal attempts in the decisive fourth quarter and missed four free throws in the last two minutes.

"We just made too many turnovers [20] and missed too many free throws," said Rex Chapman, who led Washington with 26 points. "You can't make mistakes like that in the Garden."

"This could have been ours," said point guard Michael Adams (11 points, seven assists).

On top of that, leading scorer Harvey Grant hit two of 11 shots from the field and finished with four points. Grant, who scored 34 in the Bullets' 101-97 win over the Celtics at the Capital Centre on Nov. 17, shouldered most of the blame.

"If I'd have done anything, we'd have won," he said.

If the Bullets felt King, the latest in a growing list of loved and unloved ones being left home alone, could have made the difference, they sure didn't show it. The mention of his name brought sudden scowls, as well as abrupt ends to at least three post-game interviews.

"There's nothing to talk about there," Grant said. Chapman and Adams echoed the sentiment.

The Bullets, who led 49-36 late in the second quarter, watched the Celtics mount a 14-2 run to close the third and regain the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

Washington trailed 79-72 after three quarters and never got closer than two in the final 12 minutes.

Baltimore native Reggie Lewis led Boston with 27 points and 39-year-old center Robert Parish had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Pervis Ellison, Parish's 25-year-old Bullets counterpart, scored 20 and pulled down 13 rebounds.

The defeat was the Bullets' seventh straight at the Boston Garden.

"They don't throw in the towel," Parish said of the Bullets. "They work hard and they hustle."

It appeared that the Bullets might be in for a repeat of their embarrassing 38-point loss here Nov. 25 when the Celtics jumped to an 18-13 lead midway through the first quarter. The Bullets, who were without starters Chapman, Ellison and Adams on the day after Thanksgiving, were determined, however, not to come out playing like turkeys again.

Led by Chapman, who scored 15 in the opening quarter, and Tom Gugliotta, who added 11 and seven rebounds, the Bullets forged ahead, 32-28, to enter the second quarter.

Taking a cue, perhaps, from the near-blizzard conditions outside, Boston went cold in the first eight minutes of the second quarter and Washington took advantage.

Boston, which trailed 54-48 at halftime, was down 70-65 with five minutes left in the third, but scored 10 unanswered points to regain the lead for good.

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