SuperSonics, miscues team to beat Bullets

December 07, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- Washington Bullets forward Tom Gugliotta apparently had seen enough. Just after another Bullets turnover turned into two more Seattle SuperSonics points, Gugliotta reared his right fist back and batted the basketball to the other end of the court.

"Frustration," was how Gugliotta, who got a technical foul, described the act.

It was a frustrating game for Gugliotta and his Bullets teammates who, on the night that Pervis Ellison returned, committed a season-high 30 turnovers in a 103-96 loss before a sellout at The Coliseum.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Bullets (6-10), who lost to the Sonics for the 10th straight time. Playing in Seattle hasn't been pleasant for Washington, which haven't won here since Jan. 2, 1980.

Gugliotta scored 25 points and Don MacLean added 18 to lead the Bullets, who shot 51 percent. Ellison scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds in his return, making two of seven shots.

Seattle improved to 14-1 and improved its home record to 8-0. Six Seattle players scored in double figures, with Shawn Kemp and Kendall Gill scoring 18 each to lead the Sonics.

Once again the Bullets could not defend the basket, with Seattle making layup after layup while shooting 55.7 percent to become the eighth straight opponent to shoot 50 percent or better against the Bullets. Washington had just as difficult a time holding on to the ball as Seattle had a franchise record-tying 23 steals. Eighteen of Washington's 30 turnovers came in the first half.

"We just had so many turnovers, and we didn't get enough shots," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "I think we did a better job [than in last week's loss to Seattle] -- we were in the game. We just couldn't get any substitution pattern to get something done."

Washington went into the final quarter trailing 73-70, after fighting from a 17-point deficit in the first half. They chipped away at the lead in a sizzling third quarter when the Bullets outscored the Sonics 34-22, making 80 percent of their shots (MacLean was 4-for-4 for 10 points).

But Seattle gained control in the fourth quarter behind reserves Nate McMillan (11 points, seven assists, four steals), Michael Cage (10 points, eight rebounds) and Vincent Askew (nine points). The three combined for 15 points during a 17-4 Seattle run that started the quarter, leading the Sonics to a 90-74 lead with 6:49 left.

Ellison sat with both knees wrapped in ice after the game, not pleased with the way he played.

"I thought I would do a lot better," Ellison said. "I didn't feel any real rhythm. My legs felt pretty heavy."

But he did enough good things to impress Unseld, who played Ellison mainly at center in place of Kevin Duckworth, who scored five points in 16 minutes.

"I thought he played well, everything considered," Unseld said.

The Bullets were trailing 22-16 in the first quarter when Ellison replaced Duckworth with 3:14 left.

After missing his first shot early in the second quarter, Ellison showed what he could contribute by grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring a layup with 7:18 left that brought the Bullets to 31-25. With Ellison, Brent Price and Calbert Cheaney in the game, Washington got as close as 33-29 after Cheaney banked in a jump shot with 6:13 left.

But when those three sat, Seattle scored seven straight -- the last three on a jumper from the left side by McMillan that gave the Sonics a 40-29 lead with 3:07 left. That was the start of a closing 18-7 run that gave Seattle a 51-36 halftime lead.

"If we don't run at our pace against the trap, we can't break the defense down and go the other way," the Bullets' Michael Adams said.

In the second half, the Bullets, particularly MacLean, got off to a hot start. The Bullets made six of their first eight shots and with MacLean making his first four -- the last on a jump shot with 8:06 left -- they cut Seattle's lead to 56-53.

The Sonics ran off five points to increase their lead to 61-53 with 6:55 left. Washington got as close as 64-62 after a three-pointer by Gugliotta with 4:35 left, but Seattle still held a 73-70 lead going into the final quarter. That's when the Sonics broke the game open.

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