Knicks put Bullets on hold, 92-84 10-0 run in 4th not enough to win

November 11, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- It was an excuse for the Washington Bullets to call it a night: Center Kevin Duckworth had been ejected with 4:14 left in the third quarter and the team trailing by 19, and Kenny Walker was asked to play the post, where he gave up 4 inches and many pounds to the New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing.

But the Bullets fought back, at one point in the fourth quarter coming within seven points against a team many think is on the verge of an NBA title. In the end New York had too many weapons, getting 28 points and 14 rebounds from Ewing and 27 points from John Starks en route to a 92-84 win before 13,522 at USAir Arena.

The Bullets (1-3) had entered the game on the high of Tuesday's win at Detroit -- Washington's first road victory against the Pistons since 1986. But last night was a matter of coming back to reality against the Knicks (4-0), who are one win shy of tying their club record for most wins to start a season.

For Washington, it was a night in which its bench outscored New York's 60-15. But that just demonstrated the struggle of Washington's starting five: Duckworth, Tom Gugliotta, Calbert Cheaney, Michael Adams and Rex Chapman scored just 24 points -- with Cheaney and Chapman going scoreless.

Walker had 18 points and 14 rebounds in 41 minutes off the bench against his former teammates; Don MacLean, coming back from a scary moment in the first half when he appeared to seriously twist his knee, scored 16; and LaBradford Smith added 16 in 20 minutes.

But Washington's reserves were not good enough to match the performance of the deep Knicks.

"The small lineup hurts us against a strong, physical team because of our lack of size," Washington coach Wes Unseld said. "We used it only out of necessity."

That lineup was necessary after Duckworth was ejected after getting called for two technical fouls by Tommy Nunez. Duckworth got the second technical as he walked to the Bullets' bench.

"Wes was talking to me. It was [Nunez's] opinion that I said something to him," Duckworth said. "Plus, things weren't as fair as they should have been."

Especially with Walker, who doesn't seem to be anywhere near the 220 pounds he's listed at, being asked to check the 240-pound Ewing after Duckworth left.

But Washington rallied in fourth quarter as Smith, who did not play in the first two games, started the period with a short jumper and two free throws and MacLean, who slightly hyperextended his knee in the first half, converted two straight three-point plays. In all, it made up a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter that had Washington as close as 79-72 with 9:35 left.

"In the third quarter, we had stops and we pushed the ball up," New York guard Doc Rivers said. "Then in the fourth, we stopped being aggressive."

Said Unseld: "The way we stayed in the game was by scrambling and hustling. The difference was that they have two guys [Ewing and Starks] they can go to when needed, and we don't. Our defense was good, we just couldn't stop those two guys -- but what team in the league can."

Once again, the Bullets experienced a poor shooting game hitting, 28 of 80 field goals (35 percent). Only nine of those field goals were scored by the starters, with Chapman's 28 minutes the top playing time recorded by the starting five.

Walker, a first-round pick by the Knicks in the 1986 draft, provided a big spark off the bench for the Bullets. Joining the team as a free-agent after playing two years in Europe, Walker played a season-high 41 minutes and did his most damage in the second quarter when he scored nine points and had eight rebounds.

"No, there was no added incentive," was Walker's response when asked if he put forth any extra effort playing against his old team. "It was good seeing some of the old friends that I played with. I just tried to approach this like it was another game."

Strictly a small forward in his days as a Knick, Walker played all three front-court positions last night.

"I'm just trying to do what the coaching staff asks of me," Walker said.

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