Chapman, Bullets cool off

Heat Gugliotta, Overton also aid 110-92 win

April 16, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Kevin Loughery can soon start sharpening his golf game in Miami.

The lottery-bound Washington Bullets ambushed his Heat at the Capital Centre last night, putting together one of their more inspired efforts of the season in rolling to a 110-92 victory to all but eliminate Miami from playoff contention.

The Heat (35-42) now find themselves 3 1/2 games back of both Detroit and Indiana with only five games left on the schedule.

"This is the toughest loss for us all year," said Miami point guard Steve Smith, who has triggered the team's turnaround since the All-Star break following an early-season knee injury. "This is the kind of game you really worry about, because they have a bunch of kids still trying to prove they can play in this league.

"We came out fast in the first quarter [Miami led 30-18], but in the last three quarters, they gave us an old-fashioned butt-kicking."

Indeed. The last time these two teams played in Miami, March 4, it was just the reverse, with center Rony Seikaly grabbing a career-high 34 rebounds to trigger a 125-106 win.

But minus starting center Pervis Ellison and back-up Charles Jones, both sidelined with knee injuries, and missing playmaker Michael Adams (fractured finger), the hustling Bullets out-muscled Miami on the boards last night, 45-33. Seikaly was held to a modest seven rebounds, almost five below his average.

Rookie Tom Gugliotta (22 points, 10 rebounds) and recently acquiredjourneyman center Mark Acres (nine rebounds) did most of the muscle work for Washington.

But it was Rex Chapman and rookie guard Doug Overton who sparked the offense in the second half when the Bullets shot 71 percent and outscored the Heat 66-46.

Chapman, who has spent most of the second half of the season in a reserve role, saved 14 of his 22 points for the last quarter when he hit three three-point shots.

Overton, fighting off a thumb injury that kept him sidelined for two months, kept the Miami defense honest by aggressively driving to the hoop in scoring 16 points, his biggest contribution since Dec. 8.

Still, the Heat managed to stay alive on the outside shooting of Glen Rice (23 points) and Smith, trailing 91-84 with 5:25 left.

Bullets captain Harvey Grant, who made just two of his first 15 shots, then broke loose for consecutive dunks on assists by Gugliotta and Larry Stewart. Chapman and Gugliotta followed with baskets to provide a 99-84 lead and ignite a standing ovation from the crowd of 11,007.

The Bullets have beaten the Heat in three of four meetings, with a last game in Miami next Friday.

Bullets coach Wes Unseld, who has been hearing abuse of late from talk-show callers concerning the team's lowly estate, tried to give Miami and former teammate Loughery the benefit of the doubt.

"They played a real physical game last night [Wednesday] in Chicago," he said. "I think losing that game and seeing their playoff hopes diminished took something out of them."

But that doesn't explain the Bullets' inspired effort.

"If we played like that all year, we'd be in first place, not New York," suggested Grant.

Overton acknowledged that he has been struggling the past few weeks, trying to compensate for his still-sore left thumb.

"I just wanted to get back to playing aggressively," said the La Salle product, who made the Bullets as a free agent last summer. "The hand is feeling fine now."

Even more encouraging was the performance of Chapman, whose motivation has been questioned.

"I've been in this league five years, but this has been my most frustrating season," said Chapman, a lottery pick of Charlotte in 1988. "My minutes have dropped and I've had a lot of nagging injuries. Hopefully, I'm riding a wave right now."

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