Ailing Cavs still have too much for Bullets

February 24, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- First there was Cleveland Cavaliers center Brad Daugherty walking off the court at the end of the first quarter, gone for the evening with a sprained lower back. Then there was forward Larry Nance leaving the court at halftime, gone for the evening with a strained arch in his left foot.

A chance for the Washington Bullets to steal a game and end a three-game losing streak? Hardly, on a night where the Bullets' offense also was missing, gone for nearly the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter when Washington failed to make a field goal. The result was a 106-96 loss before a crowd of 8,824 at the USAir Arena.

The final box score shows the Bullets being outscored by two points in the final quarter, but that doesn't detail the difficulty Washington had finding the basket.

Going into the final quarter, the Bullets trailed, 83-75. However, Washington didn't connect on its first field goal until Pervis Ellison hit a baseline jumper with 5:02 left. By that time the Bullets trailed, 96-84, and were never able to mount a comeback.

"We've been having those problems, not being able to score," said Tom Gugliotta, who led Washington with 20 points and matched a career high with six steals. "I don't know what it is. But you have to give them credit, too."

A huge credit goes to the Cleveland reserves, who outscored Washington's, 49-23, and totaled 35 rebounds -- five more than Washington had for the game. Key bench contributors were Chris Mills (13 points, 12 rebounds), Tyrone Hill (eight points, 11 rebounds), Danny Ferry (10 points, seven rebounds) and Bobby Phills (10 points).

"We need to give a lot of credit to our bench tonight," Cavaliers coach Mike Fratello said. "Especially Danny Ferry [former DeMatha star]. He came off the bench and did a great job."

And then there was the steady play of Mark Price, who had 22 points and 10 assists. He scored 11 points in the third quarter when Cleveland overcame a three-point deficit to take an eight-point lead going into the final period.

"I thought he came out and hit some big jumpers," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "Defensively, I thought we did a good job in the first half. In the second half we didn't help like we should have."

While the story of the game was Cleveland's reserves, the Bullets got a big lift from their bench in the second quarter when they rallied from an 11-point deficit to take a five-point lead. Gheorghe Muresan played a big role, scoring eight points during the 20-4 run and capping it off with a jumper to give Washington its biggest lead, 47-42.

But that lineup, which included Doug Overton, Brent Price, Ron Anderson and Ellison, provided little at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. By the time Unseld came back with his starters, the game was over. "The bench got us back -- that's not been the character of the bench, scoring," Unseld said. "But when we went back with them, we didn't get much."

All five starters scored in double figures, with Michael Adams getting 16 and Don MacLean adding 15 to go with Gugliotta's 20. But, even with that balance, this was a game in which there was very little to cheer.

"This is frustrating," MacLean said. "We just didn't seem to get things going. We didn't make the baskets when we needed to."

And that kind of sums up the Bullets' season so far.

NOTES: C Kevin Duckworth, who missed the previous five games with the flu, dressed but did not play. . . . Hot rumor reported on ESPN on Tuesday had the Minnesota Timberwolves offering Christian Laettner for Gugliotta. Washington GM John Nash did not deny the offer, but has said previously this season that Gugliotta is one of the team's cornerstones for the future. . . . The Bullets, who have now lost 11 of 13 games, play host to the Chicago Bulls tomorrow.

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