Rallying Bullets run off 16 points, but not Sonics

February 17, 1993|By John Peoples | John Peoples,Contributing Writer

SEATTLE -- A fourth-quarter rally by the Washington Bullets, including 16 straight points at one stretch, made the Seattle SuperSonics nervous, but could not prevent the Sonics from scoring a 112-102 victory last night before 13,585 at the Seattle Center Coliseum.

Shawn Kemp led Seattle with 25 points and eight rebounds. The Bullets got 22 points and five rebounds from Larry Stewart.

After trailing by 19 early in the final quarter, the Bullets closed to 107-102 with 2:07 left. But the Bullets could get no closer.

"I just thought we decided to go out and play at the end," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "We moved the ball and made some tough shots during that spurt. That was the big thing.

"I thought our intensity was really good, but we had a tough time matching up against them early in the game. Then I think we got more determined to play, and I think that was the big key [to the rally]."

The Sonics, who scored their eighth consecutive win over the Bullets and 13th straight in Seattle, improved their season record to 32-17. The loss was the Bullets' fourth in a row, and it dropped their record to 15-35.

Last night's win was Seattle's second of the season against Washington. The Sonics defeated the Bullets, 120-92, at the Capital Centre on Feb. 9.

The Sonics got off quickly, building a 21-11 lead with 5:53 left in the first quarter. Seattle was led in the first period by Kemp, who scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds. Kemp finished the first half with 14 points.

"We let them jump on us right from the start," the Bullets' Stewart said. "We had to use too much energy in the second half to get back in the game.

"Down the stretch, a couple of turnovers really hurt us and a good team like Seattle took advantage of it."

The Sonics made the most of six Bullets turnovers in the first period, converting the miscues into five points. Seattle committed two turnovers in the first quarter, but the Bullets didn't capitalize.

Pervis Ellison was the only Bullet who could find the range in the first quarter, with 11 points as the Bullets fell behind 31-23.

Rookie Tom Gugliotta had a poor shooting night, going 4-for-13, but led the Bullets with nine rebounds.

The Bullets staged a mini-rally at the start of the second quarter, a 10-5 Washington run that cut Seattle's lead to 36-33 after a Horace Grant baseline jumper with 9:09 left in the first half.

But the Sonics countered with a 15-4 blitz during the next 3 1/2 minutes that boosted them to a 51-37 lead with 4:42 left in the half. Seattle's Eddie Johnson, who had 11 points in the second period, scored six points during the spurt.

Stewart was the most accurate Bullet in the second quarter, scoring eight of his 12 first-half points.

Seattle's domination continued in the third period, when the Sonics built 20-point leads on several occasions. The Bullets rallied to cut the lead to 91-78 after three quarters.

Seattle, which pushed its lead to 99-80 at the beginning of the final quarter, substituted liberally.

But the Bullets battled back and scored 16 straight points. That forced Seattle coach George Karl to put his starters back in the game.

"We were a little sloppy in the fourth quarter," Karl said. "We just didn't put the hammer down like we should have."

Stewart led the rally with eight points and LaBradford Smith scored six as Washington cut Seattle's advantage to 99-96 with 4:42 left.

"They [the Bullets] were mostly getting quick baskets during that run in the fourth, while we were turning the ball over," Seattle's Kemp said. "They learned how to move the ball against our defense. They were penetrating and passing the ball very well at the end."

Johnson stopped the Sonics' nearly five-minute scoreless streak with a 20-foot jumper with 4:20 left. After Seattle stopped the Bullets, Johnson tipped in a miss by Gary Payton with 3:56 left to increase Seattle's lead to 103-94.

Washington trailed by 107-102 after a lay-in and free throw by Brent Price with 2:07 left. The Bullets got no closer, and the Sonics went up 109-102 after two free throws by Payton with 1:27 left.

"We played one half of basketball," Bullets guard Michael Adams said. "If we want a chance to win these types of games, we'll need to play two solid halves."

"I don't care if we lose by one point or by 20 points," Unseld said. "Until we start taking care of the ball and playing better defense, our defense is going to be slow."

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