Bullets stung by same lapses in Hornets loss

February 01, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

The struggling Washington Bullets reached the halfway mark of the 1992-93 season with a 12-29 mark -- the third worst in the NBA. Their latest defeat Saturday, a 127-121 overtime loss to the visiting Charlotte Hornets, typified their frustrations the past three months.

The names of the rival teams and players may change, but for the Bullets, the negative results are predictable. No lead is safe, even in the closing seconds, as was the case in their three overtime contests at the Capital Centre in the space of a week.

First, the Bullets managed to blow an eight-point lead in the last two minutes against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 24, then lost in overtime, 112-110.

Somehow, they survived a desperation three-pointer by Miami reserve Keith Askins in regulation to beat the Heat in overtime, 104-102, on Michael Adams' layup Tuesday.

But they were less fortunate Saturday night against Charlotte. Reserve guard Dell Curry, who scored a career-high 33 points, made a three-point shot with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 113.

There was ample time for the Bullets to run a play for the game-winning shot, but this is not a team that thrives on a half-court game, setting picks and freeing a man for a high-percentage shot.

Wes Unseld designed a play for forward Harvey Grant or center Pervis Ellison to get a shot down low. But the bigger, stronger Hornets negated this play, and Adams, with time expiring, tossed up an air ball on the baseline.

Charlotte, which has much better talent than its record of .500 would indicate, scored the first seven points in overtime and survived a pair of three-pointers by LaBradford Smith to put it away, 127-121.

In the past week, Unseld has tried to bolster his defense by starting small forward Buck Johnson and assigning him to the rival team's shooting guard. Johnson did an effective job against the Lakers' Byron Scott and the 76ers' Hersey Hawkins, but could not control Curry.

Curry and starter Kendall Gill combined for 53 points on 22-for-39 shooting. Johnson and Rex Chapman managed 14 points in shooting a combined 5-for-12 from the field for the Bullets.

The poor shooting by the guards (Adams was 2-for-10) more than offset the strong play of front-liners Grant, Ellison and Tom Gugliotta, who combined for 80 points and 38 rebounds.

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