Cavaliers' upfront style wears on Bullets, 114-95

April 10, 1993|By Tony Grossi | Tony Grossi,Contributing Writer

For the Washington Bullets, it was about as good as it gets on the road -- for one half. They played hard as long as they could and even had the Cleveland Cavaliers admiring their work.

But all a 59-58 Washington halftime lead did was wake up the Cavs. Especially their big men. Asserting their dominance in the frontcourt, the Cavs won going away, 114-95, before 19,383 at the Richfield Coliseum.

"It's an understatement to say we wore down," said forward Harvey Grant, who led the Bullets with 16 points. "We ran out of gas. For the first two quarters, our guys played their hearts out."

With their third consecutive victory, the Cavs (46-27) clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season and fifth time in six years. The Bullets' third straight loss dropped them to 21-53. It was their fifth consecutive defeat here since a 109-89 victory Dec. 22, 1990.

The game was decided in the third period, when the Cavs outscored the Bullets 32-17, held them to 25 percent shooting and out-rebounded them 15-8.

It was a period in which Cavs All-Stars Brad Daugherty, their 7-foot center, and Larry Nance, their 6-10 power forward, asserted control over Washington's depleted frontcourt.

After watching Bullets rookie Tom Gugliotta outplay him in the first half, Daugherty made all five of his shots in the third period and hauled down seven rebounds. Daugherty made his final 10 shots of the game to lead with 28 points. He added 14 rebounds.

Gugliotta, playing his third straight game at center in place of the injured Pervis Ellison, stunned Daugherty with eight points and 11 rebounds in the first period. Grant had 11 and Michael Adams six assists as the Bullets ran to a 34-28 lead on 15-for-26 shooting.

"I thought we had a chance," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "We were moving the ball and we were very active."

In fact, the Bullets accomplished the unusual feat of having as many assists (23) as baskets (23) in the first half.

After the break, Daugherty and Nance took over, defensively and offensively. Gugliotta finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds, with two points and three rebounds in the second half.

Nance grabbed 10 second-half rebounds for a game-high 16. And 6-11 forward John "Hot Rod" Williams came off the bench to score 11 of his 15 points in the second half.

"We just did a lousy job of running our offense with them having a deep bench and us not being an experienced team," Gugliotta said. "We couldn't stay up with them. If anyone had to play 38 minutes against a center like Daugherty, it would wear anyone down. By the middle of the third period, we were worn out."

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