2-39 Mavs put scare in Bullets, but fall

January 28, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- As play began in the final quarter of last night's Washington Bullets game, Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" filled the air. At that time, playing the Dallas Mavericks, one would have figured that the game would be just that.

But these are the Bullets, and instead of having the game in the bag Washington instead found itself in a battle against the NBA's worst team before escaping with a 98-95 win.

There was a paid crowd of 13,117, but only 4,129 braved the ice and sleet to watch the last-place teams representing the Atlantic and Midwest divisions.

And even in winning, it wasn't a performance that the Bullets could be proud of. Washington took a 96-93 lead after two free throws by Calbert Cheaney with 9.8 seconds left.

Dallas had a chance to tie, but an inbounds pass to Jamal Mashburn was stolen by Tom Gugliotta. His dunk with 4.6 seconds left finally sealed what was an extremely forgettable game.

Gugliotta scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Cheaney added 18 points to lead the Bullets.

Jim Jackson scored 21 points and Mashburn added 19 for the Mavericks, who fell to 2-39 and had their losing streak extended to 16 games.

After watching their 13-point lead in the first half cut to 71-70 going into the final quarter, Bullets coach Wes Unseld had 7-foot-7 center Gheorghe Muresan in the game to disrupt the Dallas offense.

Muresan did a good job, scoring a basket, grabbing a rebound and getting a steal in just over the first minute of the quarter and the Bullets were able to increase the lead to 78-72 after a jumper and free throw by Michael Adams with 10:26 left.

Washington, playing without Don MacLean, who left the game with a hip injury with 8:08 left in the third quarter, got a couple of big free throws by his replacement, Kenny Walker, with 8:12 left. They gave the Bullets their biggest lead of the quarter, 82-77.

But the Bullets were unable to shake the Mavericks, with two free throws by Tim Legler with just under four minutes left tying the game at 87. That set up what had to be a very tense ending for the Bullets.

This is all you need to know about the Mavericks: with five-tenths of a second left in the first half Mashburn inbounded the ball from the sideline. Instead of throwing a lob toward the basket, Mashburn passed the ball back to Popeye Jones who -- instead of shooting -- passed back to Jackson.

No wonder these guys have won just two games.

Still the Mavericks, who shot 41.5 percent in the first half, trailed by just 52-47 at the intermission.

The Mavericks faced a tough battle from the outset, playing without center Sean Rooks, who broke his right foot in Wednesday's loss against Philadelphia. It's hard enough to win with Rooks, let alone with Doug Smith, Greg Dreiling and Donald Hodge roaming the middle.

And the Bullets were able to get the edge on the Mavericks early, taking a 13-8 lead after a jumper by MacLean with 6:15 left in the first quarter.

After Jackson responded with a jumper, the Bullets ran off the next 10 points to increase the lead to 25-12.

A Bullets blowout? No way. Just like that the Mavericks, who shot just 39.1 percent in the quarter, scored the last seven points, including a three-pointer by Mashburn that made it 25-19.

Dallas continued its 15-4 run -- covering the last minute of the first quarter and the first two minutes of the second quarter -- to come to within 29-27 after a baseline jumper by Hodge with 10:06 left.

However, the Bullets responded with a 14-4 run of their own to make it 43-31 after a three-pointer by Adams with 4:57 left. The Mavericks cut the lead to seven by the half despite scoring just three points (Legler's three-pointer with 22.5 seconds left) off of 11 first-half turnovers by the Bullets.

Dallas began to convert in the third quarter, which it opened with a 15-4 run. The Mavericks had their first lead of the game, 58-56, after a layup by Jackson with 7:50 left. A jumper by Doug Smith capped the run for a 60-56 Dallas lead.

The Bullets were only able to take a 71-70 lead into the final period.

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