Newest Bullet Acres sees a hole he can fill

April 05, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

In another injury-riddled season, the Washington Bullets have had a revolving door in their locker room, with free agents seemingly coming and going every week after their 10-day contracts expire.

The list of transients this season includes guards Chris Corchiani, Byron Irvin and Steve Burtt, plus Alan Ogg, a self-confessed 7-foot-2 flower child. None of them played long enough to leave an impression.

All that may have changed Saturday with the arrival of Mark Acres, a 6-foot-11 journeyman whose basketball travels over the last seven years have taken him to Italy, Belgium, Boston, Orlando, Fla., Houston and Chicago.

Acres, 30, was at home in Palm Springs, Calif., when he got an emergency call from the Bullets after reserve center Charles Jones joined starter Pervis Ellison on the sidelines with a season-ending knee injury.

Acres was well-rested. He did not play a single minute for the Chicago Bulls, who cut him Feb. 25 to make room for forward Ed Nealy. But Bullets coach Wes Unseld had more ambitious plans for his new center.

With only converted rookie forward Tom Gugliotta to battle the Portland Trail Blazers' beefy twosome of Mark Bryant and Kevin Duckworth, Unseld wasted little time calling on Acres.

"When I reported, Wes pretty much told me he wanted me to take up room on defense, rebound and set picks," he said.

Acres followed orders. In 13 productive minutes, he scored five points and grabbed three rebounds.

His two fourth-quarter field goals provided the Bullets with a 99-87 cushion with six minutes left and Washington went on to a 114-102 victory.

Acres, who spent his previous five years in the NBA as a reserve for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, is eager to take advantage of this opportunity.

"This year hasn't been easy for me or my family," said the Southern California native. "It's really the first time in five years I didn't have a guaranteed contract and found myself on the hot seat in the job market.

"I got released by Orlando before training camp. I guess they had to choose between me and Shaquille O'Neal," he said, showing he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

Several NBA teams invited him to training camp, but he settled for a two-month guarantee by Houston and remained with the Rockets until December when starting power forward Otis Thorpe came off the injured list. Next came his brief and uneventful tenure with the Bulls.

But Acres, a second-round pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 1985, who chose to begin his professional career in Italy, may finally be in the right place at the right time.

"I've just got to work real hard and take advantage of my opportunity," he said.

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