Bullets blow 16-point lead, lose to Kings

December 30, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- When the Washington Bullets lost to the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 23, the 26-point margin of defeat was the team's worst of the season.

Last night's 103-97 loss at the USAir Arena wasn't that bad numerically, but you have to think that this one will play on the minds of the Bullets for a long, long time.

Going into last night, Sacramento had won just one game on the road this season, beating the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-103, on Dec. 10. But last night the Kings were able to overcome a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to defeat Washington before a sellout crowd.

It was the 13th loss in the past 14 games for the Bullets, who dropped to 8-19. The Kings, the second worst team in the NBA, improved to 7-19.

Sacramento was able to beat the Bullets despite the fact that Mitch Richmond, who entered the game as the fourth-leading scorer in the league, contributed just 13 points.

With foul trouble limiting Richmond's minutes in the first half, enough Kings stepped up to pick up the scoring slack. Forward Lionel Simmons scored 27 points to lead a balanced attack in which five players scored in double figures.

Several players known to area fans made key contributions for the Kings. Guard LaBradford Smith, who was cut by Washington Dec. 4, hit a jumper with 7:37 left in the game to give the Kings their first lead of the half. Smith scored five of his seven points in the final quarter.

Former University of Maryland star Walt Williams, who was scoreless in six minutes against Orlando Tuesday night, scored six of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Don MacLean scored 25 points, Rex Chapman had 21 and Tom Gugliotta 20 to lead Washington.

Taking a 48-46 lead into the third quarter, the Bullets went on an 11-2 run to start the second half and, after a dunk by MacLean with 8:21 left, had a 59-48 lead.

Michael Adams, who scored 10 points in the third quarter, gave )) Washington its biggest lead with a jumper and ensuing free throw that put the Bullets up 71-55.

But then Pervis Ellison sat down, and Kevin Duckworth replaced him. Suddenly Sacramento's path to the basket became a little easier with Spud Webb, Simmons and Wayman Tisdale combining to score 15 of the last 17 points that pulled the Kings to within 76-72 after three quarters.

Ellison made his first start of the season as Duckworth complained of the flu. And he made an immediate impact with five blocks in the first quarter -- in just 12 minutes -- establishing an individual high for blocks this season. As Ellison helped clog the middle the Bullets, with Chapman scoring 10 of the team's last 11 points in the first quarter, took a 26-18 lead.

Washington grabbed its biggest lead, 30-18, after Gugliotta scored on a layup 90 seconds into the second quarter. But after a jumper by Don MacLean gave the Bullets a 33-22 lead with 8:49 left, the game for Washington -- and the fans -- turned ugly.

During the next 6:39 the worst defensive team in the league (allowing 110.4 points a game going in) kept the Bullets from scoring a field goal. Meanwhile, the Kings began slowly chipping away at the lead, even taking the lead after a layup by Pete Chilcutt with 3:55 left put Sacramento up 38-37.

An 8-2 Bullets run, including a layup by Adams that ended Washington's field-goal drought, gave Washington a 44-40 lead. Ex-Terp Williams scored four of Sacramento's next six points that, after his baseline dunk, tied the game at 46 with 43 seconds left. But Gugliotta's layup with four seconds left gave the Bullets a 48-46 halftime lead.

Washington had an interesting first-half stat sheet, attempting 29 field goals and 28 free throws.

NOTES: Mitchell Butler, on the injured list with a sore wrist, will be activated for tonight's game against the New York Knicks. . . Because of yesterday's snow the Bullets are offering an exchange to ticket holders not attending the game. Unused tickets can be exchanged for tickets to the Jan. 27 game against the Dallas Mavericks.

BULLETS TONIGHT

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Opponent: New York Knicks

Site: Madison Square Garden, New York

Time: 7:30

TV: Channel 20

Radio: WXZL (103.1 FM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: New York won the first meeting, 92-84, in Landover on Nov. 10. The Knicks have lost three of their past five, including Tuesday's 97-95 home loss to the New Jersey Nets. They also lost Doc Rivers for the season six games ago with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. His replacement, Greg Anthony, is shooting 32.3 percent from the field. C Patrick Ewing (22.1 ppg) and G John Starks (18.4) lead New York. Washington, which played host to Sacramento last night, is 2-8 when playing the second of back-to-back games.

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