LANDOVER -- On a night when the Washington Bullets celebrated their past and the opening of their arena 20 years ago, the Seattle SuperSonics put on a first-half display that would have made the defensive-minded teams of yesteryear proud.
For a span of more than nine minutes, the Bullets could not score a field goal against Seattle's aggressive, trapping defense. That awesome defensive display helped carry the Sonics to a 105-95 win before 18,756 at USAir Arena.
The loss was Washington's second in a row, breaking a five-game home winning streak and dropping the Bullets to 6-8. Seattle improved to 12-1 and extended its winning streak against the Bullets to nine.
Seattle went into last night allowing just 93.5 points a game, the ++ fourth-lowest average in the league.
It was easy to see why after the Sonics, playing the final game of a six-game road trip, suffocated the Bullets during a 9:27 span from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. During that time Seattle went from a 16-15 deficit to a 39-18 lead with defense good enough to make the likes of K. C. Jones, Mike Riordan and Kevin Porter -- in attendance for a Bullets reunion at halftime -- proud.
"They did a very good job of defending and taking us out of what we wanted to do," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld, also honored at halftime. "They've got some real good athletes who are very quick. They're able to disrupt your offense and they have quickness to make up for their mistakes."
Seattle coach George Karl admitted that his team made some mistakes, particularly in transition defense. But he had no problems with how his team executed its half-court defense.
"There was a stretch where they had 10 possessions in a row and they couldn't do anything," Karl said. "Any time you play defense like we do, you're going to gain a lot of confidence."
Seattle had five players in double figures, with Kendall Gill and Gary Payton each scoring 18 and Detlef Schrempf adding 17. The starting five shot 57.1 percent.
"They're quick, they execute their defense to perfection and get rewarded by it on the offensive end," Bullets forward Don MacLean said.
MacLean's 21 points and Rex Chapman's 20 led Washington, which shot 46.9 percent. The Bullets, after leading by five in the firstquarter, trailed by as many as 22 points.
The Bullets did make a couple of runs, hitting seven straight shots in the second quarter after Seattle's impressive run. The last of those, a jumper by Michael Adams, had the Bullets within 46-34 with 3:00 left in the half.
But despite another fourth-quarter run that had Washington within 82-71 after a MacLean jumper with 10:22 left, the outcome was never in doubt. The final score was as close as Washington got after falling into the hole in the second quarter.
"We weren't outmanned, just outran," Chapman said. "They started switching their defense and we couldn't adjust to it. By not adjusting, we got hurt."
The Bullets have a day off to regroup before tomorrow's game against Portland.
"We've got to learn to be ready and come out and play against better teams," Adams said. "Teams like this are just going to keep coming at you. You've got to be ready for that."
NOTES: General manager John Nash said rumors are untrue that the Bullets are ready to deal MacLean to the Dallas Mavericks for C Sean Rooks. "We had a conversation with Dallas and I inquired about the availability of Rooks. But that's as far as it went," Nash said. . . . After tomorrow's game, the Bullets will play their next three (Seattle, Utah, Phoenix) on the road.