Bullets win close one for change Adams' layup beats Heat in OT

January 27, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- For just a few days at least, let us not mention a word about the Washington Bullets' propensity for losing close games due to offensive breakdowns, defensive snafus and the lack of a go-to guy.

Last night, the Bullets finally got it right, making all the big plays in crunch time and beating the Miami Heat in overtime, 104-102, on Michael Adams' layup with 1.9 seconds left.

For a few scary moments, it appeared the Bullets might lose their sixth straight and their second overtime game in a three day-span.

Adams, who took charge with the game on the line, had seemingly given Washington a safe three-point lead on a breakaway layup with 11 seconds left. But, shades of the Los Angeles Lakers, reserve Miami guard Keith Askins, under heavy pressure, hit a three-point attempt to tie it at 102 with 5.7 seconds remaining.

In similar game-ending situations the past two weeks, the Bullets either got off a low-percentage shot or no shot at all. But this time, to the delight of coach Wes Unseld, they executed their game-winning play to perfection.

"It was the same play we were supposed to run in the last seconds against the Lakers on Sunday," said Unseld. "Only this time it worked."

The play was designed for Adams to get the ball to forward Harvey Grant, who would then either take the shot or pass it back to Adams, who would then look for center Pervis Ellison down low.

But the Heat did an excellent job of defensing Grant and Ellison, leaving Adams with a split-second decision.

"There was no doubt in my mind I was going to take that shot," he said. "I just put my head down, drove left, and beat [Kevin] Edwards to the basket. The only thing I worried about was breaking down on the way. Both my ankles were killing me."

There were still almost two seconds left, and Bullets fans, who have suffered through repeated last-second horror shows this season, knew that was more than enough time for another disaster to occur.

After a timeout, Miami got the ball to point guard Steve Smith, who fired up a desperation 30-footer. This time, it clanked off the back rim, and the Bullets raced off the floor with rare smiles on their faces.

It was an amazing turnabout for a frustrated, young team that had played one of its poorest first halves and trailed 69-51 in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

"We got back in the game by gambling defensively," said Unseld. "We played aggressively on both ends, that got us moving and fired up a bit."

Ellison, who was a major contributor with 21 points, 10 rebounds , five assists and four blocks, said the Bullets' trapping defense worked in the second half simply because they began to make free throws and forced Miami to take the ball out of bounds. In the first half, Washington converted seven of 16 foul shots.

But in the second half, all of the Bullets were clearly in the attack mode, and it was the Heat that turned tentative.

"That's been our problem all season," said Miami coach Kevin Loughery. "We play well for a half, and then, it seems, no one wants to take the ball to the hole."

Much the same has been said of the struggling Bullets, but last night, Adams seized the game by the throat.

"My first look all season has been to pass the ball," said the playmaker, who led the Bullets with 25 points. "But tonight, if the opportunity was there, I wasn't going to pass it up."

Said Grant: "You could see his eyes were as big as saucers before that last shot. I knew Michael was going to take it straight to the basket. And thank God, it went in."

It resulted in the fifth overtime loss in as many tries for Miami. And who says the Bullets have troubles?

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