Bullets swarmed by Hornets Mourning's 26 points lead 127-111 victory

November 20, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For the Washington Bullets, last night's game against the Charlotte Hornets was a chance to go over .500, something the team not done in two seasons. The attempt to do so, though, came against one of the hottest teams in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Charlotte is the best scoring team in the league and is off to the fastest start in the history of the franchise. And the Hornets showed the Bullets why many consider them a strong contender for the Central Division title in last night's 127-111 win.

Alonzo Mourning scored 26 points, Johnny Newman had 24 and Larry Johnson 22 as the Hornets won their fifth straight game -- equaling the club's longest streak.

Rex Chapman did his best to help Washington's cause, scoring a season-high 37 points -- one short of his career high -- before being pulled with 6:24 left. But Chapman got little help from the rest of the starters, none of whom shot more than 50 percent.

Noticeably absent from the Bullets offense was forward Don MacLean, the team's leading scorer who had a career-high 38 on Wednesday. Going against Johnson, and at times Newman, MacLean scored five points, making only one of 12 shots from the field.

The Bullets trailed by just three points, 69-66, at the half behind a strong performance from Chapman. In the first half, the former Hornets guard scored 27 points, making 11 of 14 shots from the field.

"It was basically a performance where we were a little outmanned," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "We had problems with our transition, and they were able to shoot [55.6 percent]."

"It's a very talented team," Unseld said. "They're young guys are beginning to show that they're going to be real stars."

Washington started the game in trouble, falling behind 17-10 after Larry Johnson (14 points in the half) made a three-point shot from the top of the key with 7:43 left. Bullets' center Kevin Duckworth picked up his second foul 23 seconds later, forcing coach Wes Unseld to insert 6-foot-8 Kenny Walker to play Charlotte center Mourning.

Mourning had his way with the Bullets in the last 4:21 of the quarter, scoring 11 of his 13 first-quarter points to help the Hornets -- who made 15 of 24 shots (63 percent) in the quarter -- take a 37-30 lead.

Charlotte took its biggest lead of the half, 41-32, after a Del Curry layup two minutes into the second quarter. But with both coaches playing their reserves, the Bullets started to chip away at the lead. Doug Overton and Calbert Cheaney each scored four points during a 14-5 run after a 17-foot jumper by Chapman tied the score at 46 with 6:38 left in the half.

With the Charlotte starters back into the game, Muggsy Bogues (12 first-half assists) got the Hornets running again and, after two free throws by Johnny Newman with 1:56 left, gave the team a 65-59 lead.

But Chapman, who scored 13 points in the last 5:35 of the half, scored four straight points to pull the Bullets to 65-63 with 1:31 left. Baskets by Johnson (14 points, six assists in the first half) and Hersey Hawkins put Charlotte ahead 69-63 with 36.5 seconds left, but a free throw by Michael Adams and and a dunk by Tom Gugliotta brought the Bullets, who made 13 of 19 shots from the field in the second quarter (Chapman was five of six), to 69-66 at the half.

Chapman continued with the hot hand early in the second half. After Johnson started the third quarter with a lay up, Chapman scored four straight points that pulled Washington to 71-70.

But Charlotte began to run traps, holding the Bullets scoreless for the next four minutes. During that span the Hornets increased the lead to 82-70.

Chapman ended the drought with a lay up, but Charlotte was able to build its biggest lead when Johnson scored on a layup for a 90-75 Hornets lead with 4:06 left.

Washington's bench chipped away at the lead. Cheaney and Mitchell Butler combined for 10 points during a 12-2 run that brought the Bullets to 92-87 with 1:26 left in the quarter.

Charlotte scored the last four points of the quarter, a layup by Hawkings and a jumper by Kenny Gattison to take a 96-87 lead into the final quarter.

"It's tough. We haven't been able to beat the Charlotte Hornets yet since I've been with the Bullets," Chapman said.

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