Cheaney goes down Bullets fall

February 21, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He was just hitting his stride, scoring career highs in back-to-back games. But yesterday Washington Bullets guard Calbert Cheaney became another casualty, joining a growing list of injured teammates.

Cheaney was injured late in the second quarter yesterday against the New Jersey Nets after a drive to the basket left him sprawled on the ground, clutching his left foot. By game's end, the rookie was on crutches, and the Bullets were in need of a shooting guard after a 122-101 loss before a sellout of 20,049 at the Meadowlands Arena.

It was the Bullets' second straight loss and sixth in seven games. While his teammates flew to Miami afterward for tonight's game against the Heat, Cheaney headed home, where he will undergo tests to determine the extent of the injury.

General manager John Nash said it initially appeared to be a slight tendon tear in the left heel, which could keep Cheaney out a minimum of two to three weeks. And with Rex Chapman (dislocated right ankle), Larry Stewart (broken right foot) and Kenny Walker (fractured right cheekbone) on the injured list -- and the league limit being three players -- the Bullets must wait at least three games before filing for a special exemption for Cheaney.

"If we are granted the exemption, we'll look for another guard," Nash said.

On the play he was hurt, Cheaney said, "I was in the process of going up, and that's when it started hurting. I don't know what happened. . . . It felt like it popped."

The timing was unfortunate for Cheaney, who scored a career-high 31 points against the Nets on Friday. That followed a 30-point effort Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"It's frustrating," he said, "but there's nothing you can do about it."

At the time of the injury, there was little Cheaney could have done to change the game's outcome. Unlike Friday, when the Nets needed an acrobatic shot from Kenny Anderson in the closing seconds for a 113-110 win, the Bullets were trailing by 21 when Cheaney went down.

The Nets dominated despite playing without All-Star forward Derrick Coleman, their top scorer and rebounder, who injured his ankle in Friday's game. New Jersey shot 55 percent, out-rebounded theBullets, 54-51, and had six players in double figures, led by Armon Gilliam's 24 points.

"We have a lot of talent, and when we miss someone, others tend to step up," said Gilliam, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. "We played with a lot of intensity and took Washington out of the game early."

Washington's last lead, 17-16, came midway through the first quarter after a short jumper by Don MacLean (team-high 18 points, eight rebounds). By halftime the Bullets trailed 64-44.

"Let's give them credit for their defense," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld, whose team committed eight turnovers. "And they shot the ball well. I don't think we challenged them that much."

The Bullets also did a poor job distributing the ball, as Brent Price recorded a team-high six assists in 15 minutes. Washington's starters totaled six assists.

"We played horrible," said Tom Gugliotta, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds. "They executed well and we didn't do anything. We just didn'tplay like a team."

Washington also didn't get much from centers Pervis Ellison (eight points, six rebounds in 19 minutes) and Gheorghe Muresan (four points, six rebounds in 22 minutes). Kevin Duckworth has missed the past four games with the flu, and the Bullets desperately need help in the middle.

But now the Bullets need a shooting guard, too. Unseld rotated Michael Adams, Doug Overton and Price there yesterday, but all are point guards with size problems that will hurt them at shooting guard.

Unseld has no idea what the team will do.

"We have to talk about it," said Unseld, who was planning to talk with his assistants last night. "We'll start talking about how to make some adjustments."

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