Bullets, Ellison awake, 109-103

March 02, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Finally, after nearly three months of disappointment, Washington Bullets center Pervis Ellison gave the type of performance that has been long expected.

Ellison, who spent the first month of the season on the injured list as he recovered from off-season surgery on both knees, had a season-high 25 points and a season-high 12 rebounds last night to help the Bullets defeat the host Philadelphia 76ers, 109-103.

Ellison's performance before 8,625 at the Spectrum helped the Bullets (17-39) end a six-game losing streak. The win came against a Sixers team that lost its 10th straight.

All the Bullets' starters scored at least 15 points, with Tom Gugliotta and Mitchell Butler each adding 19. But this was a night for Ellison, who hit eight of 10 shots from the field and showed the form of a year ago before he was injured.

"Pervis Ellison played probably the best game he's played all year," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "We've been waiting a long time."

Ellison had two points and two rebounds in Saturday's loss at Milwaukee, but showed a lot of spring in his legs as his aggressive style earned him 12 free-throw attempts (he hit nine). When he wasn't scoring or rebounding, Ellison was making strong passes out of the post and freeing the outside shooters.

"I think it's a matter of just getting better with each game," said Ellison, who played 40 minutes. "It's been a long season for me, personally. I just have to keep a positive outlook. I know things will get better."

The Bullets, who shot 50 percent for the game, had an 81-71 lead going into the final quarter before the Sixers rallied behind the outside shooting of Johnny Dawkins. Scoreless going into the final period, Dawkins hit four jumpers in the first two minutes and after his three-pointer with 10:05 left, Philadelphia was within 83-80.

Unseld responded by taking out 5-foot-10 Michael Adams and replacing him with the 6-3 Doug Overton. That helped cool Dawkins, who failed to score the rest of the game.

"Mike had played the whole third quarter," Unseld said of the move. "He had to be a little tired."

The move stopped the momentum only momentarily, because Philadelphia pulled within 95-93 after two free throws by Clarence Weatherspoon (26 points) with 4:15 left. Washington increased the lead to 99-94 after a jumper by Adams with 2:54 left, but a three-point play by Orlando Woolridge (23 points) had Philadelphia as close as 99-97 with 2:47 left.

But there was simply not enough time left for the Sixers, as their longest losing streak since 1973 continued.

"I have always said that when you make a game a must-win, you make it more than what it is," said Sixers coach Fred Carter. "I am really disappointed that we didn't play good basketball. They shot 40 percent for the first half, but we didn't do anything."

While the Bullets didn't get much scoring from their bench (16 points), the starters more than made up for that with their balance. Gugliotta shook off horrendous first-half shooting (three of 11 from the field) and hit six of 10 shots in the second half to go along with his 12 rebounds. Adams had 15 points and 10 assists and Don MacLean had 15 points.

All five Bullets starters played at least 34 minutes.

NOTES: The Bullets are 3-1 this season against Philadelphia, clinching the season series against the Sixers for the first time since 1975-76. There is one game left in the series, March 13 at USAir Arena. . . . Last night was final day of 10-day contract of Manute Bol, who was signed by the Bullets on Feb. 21. He said he does not expect to be back. . . . Former Bullets guard Jeff Malone, who was traded to Philadelphia last week for Jeff Hornacek, hit just one of 12 shots and scored five points.

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