Bullets wake up against Nets

January 12, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On one hand, you had a New Jersey Nets team with two players, Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson, who more than likely will be All-Stars this season. On the other hand, you had a struggling Washington Bullets team whose players will have to purchase tickets to be at the All-Star Game.

So the Bullets came out last night with their best performance in some time, leading by as many as 30 points on their way to a 115-100 win before a sparse crowd at Brendan Byrne Arena.

Washington (10-22) had lost four of five games to New Jersey last season, but was able to end their two-game losing streak with the win. The Nets, a talented, but uneven team, fell to 13-19 with their eighth loss to a team that is below .500.

At the start of the final period, it looked as if the Bullets were about to do the unthinkable -- blow the 30-point lead they had built midway through the fourth quarter. Washington missed its first five shots in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile Chris Morris, in and out of the New Jersey doghouse, began to show his talented side to the home crowd. The talented, but inconsistent forward, scored nine of New Jersey's first 11 points of the quarter, and with a three-pointer pulled the Nets to within 90-78 with 8:08 left in the game.

It was enough time for New Jersey to get back in the game (the Nets had overcome a 23-point deficit against Washington last season), but even the Bullets weren't about to blow a 30-point lead.

A three-pointer from Brent Price with 9:11 left ended a scoreless stretch of 7:41 from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth quarter. That seemingly opened up the Washington attack, with Don MacLean and Tom Gugliotta combining to score nine points during an 11-4 run that increased the Washington lead to 101-82 with 4:20 left.

New Jersey Nets coach Chuck Daly began to empty his bench, and Wes Unseld did the same to the delight of the New Jersey fans who cheered the appearance of Gheorghe Muresan at the end.

Looking to end a two-game losing streak, the Bullets had a 68-52 lead at the half -- the team's highest scoring first half of the season (it was also the most points the Nets have given up in a first half this season).

Washington's early strategy was to press and double New Jersey point guard Anderson. In limiting Anderson's effectiveness, Washington -- behind four points each from Kevin Duckworth and Rex Chapman -- was able to open an 8-1 lead.

Anderson wasn't contained for long, picking up all five of his first-quarter assists during a 14-4 run that, following a layup by Coleman, gave the Nets a 15-12 lead.

Coleman, the leading All-Star vote-getter among Eastern Conference players, scored eight of his 10 first-quarter points in the final 6:05. But Michael Adams and Kenny Walker also were shooting well, combining for 14 of Washington's final 18 points. Adams' three-pointer just before the buzzer gave the Bullets a 30-27 lead.

Washington remained hot in the second quarter, with Calbert Cheaney providing the early spark with all eight of his first-half points coming in the first 6:18, the final two on a baseline jumper that gave the Bullets a 47-38 lead.

Anderson and Coleman, who started the second quarter on the bench, came back in with 4:43 left and New Jersey trailing 48-42. But Brent Price, with six points and three assists while playing the entire second quarter, hit two free throws that started Washington on a 20-10 run that gave the Bullets a 68-52 at the half.

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