Bullets are searching for answers -- again

December 25, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In the aftermath of perhaps their most humiliating loss of the season, Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld was asked whether he could pinpoint what went wrong during the team's 114-88 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

"There's a lot I can pinpoint," Unseld said. "But, like I've always said, I'm not going to tell you guys."

So what's the problem? Perhaps the Bullets are in the wrong holiday spirit, going through the Christmas season in their Halloween mode -- masquerading as a basketball team. Whatever the problem the Bullets have lost 12 of their past 13 games, including their past two, to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sacramento Kings.

It's the worst 13-game stretch for the Bullets since the 1966-67 team -- then the Baltimore Bullets -- lost a franchise-record 13 games. Only Washington's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves has kept the Bullets from the record. But even that might carry an asterisk, because the Timberwolves have been victimized twice this season by the 2-23 Dallas Mavericks.

The holiday break could not have come at a better time for the Bullets.

"We have to figure out what's gone wrong for us in the last month," Rex Chapman said. "And we have to come back and try to get back on the right track."

A lot has gone wrong in what was supposed to be one of the easiest stretches of games this season for Washington, going against Minnesota, the Clippers and the Kings, and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. Yes, the games were on the road. But playing those teams is a stretch of games where teams build their road confidence.

Instead, travel difficulty had the Bullets arriving at their Sacramento hotel at 6:30 a.m. -- after leaving Los Angeles at 11:30 the previous night. It was announced just before game time that point guard Michael Adams had an upper respiratory infection, forcing him to miss his first game of the season.

Even if Adams played, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference against Sacramento, which had lost eight straight home games. The Kings scored easily and often in their most lopsided victory of the season.

"We got that Christmas gift that we wanted to get," Sacramento coach Garry St. Jean said.

The Bullets have been unwrapped 18 times this season, with the bulk of the losses in their 7-18 record coming in December. The Bullets are on track to win fewer than 30 games for the third straight season -- making them once again bound for the lottery -- barring a drastic improvement.

"I don't think we can afford to get down," said Doug Overton, who filled in for Adams at the point on Thursday.

"We've showed that we can play with some of the better teams. We just have to do it for four quarters. We've got to do it collectively -- not with one player playing well here and another playing well there."

For the Bullets, it would be nice just to have an individual play well -- period. Unseld was asked after the loss to the Kings whether having the second-worst team in the league beat his team by 26 points would prompt a shake-up.

Unseld's gaze was of a man who doesn't have many options.

"We've got to see where we can shake things up at," Unseld said.

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