Manning stretch run leaves Bullets winded

March 04, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Danny Manning's play through three quarters could best be described as unremarkable, which is probably why the Atlanta Hawks trailed the Washington Bullets going into the final 12 minutes of last night's game.

But Manning scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter -- eight coming in the last 3:31 -- as the Central Division-leading Hawks broke open a close game for a 109-98 win before 8,124 at USAir Arena.

The Hawks also got a big lift from former Calvert Hall star Duane Ferrell, who added 21 points -- 12 in the final quarter. Stacey Augmon also had 20 for Atlanta. But it was Manning's take-charge style that got the Hawks over the hump.

"He's a complete all-around player," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "He passed the ball well and down the stretch he scored some big buckets when they needed it."

The Bullets didn't perform all that badly, with Don MacLean scoring 23 points and Pervis Ellison posting his second straight strong performance with 21 points and nine rebounds.

Washington also got 10 points from Rex Chapman, who played 31 minutes after missing 21 games with a dislocated right ankle. "It's just good to be back playing" he said.

It would have been better by winning, but the Bullets, despite leading by two going into the final quarter, were unable to find a defensive answer for Atlanta. Augmon, 6 feet 8, continually posted the smaller Washington backcourt players.

When double-teamed, Augmon hit the open man, leading the Bullets to their 14th loss in 17 games.

"We didn't [double] the way we talked about it," Unseld said. "And when we had to stop people down the stretch, we just didn't have enough."

Manning and Ferrell combined for 23 points in the fourth quarter, bettering the 20 points Washington scored. The Bullets shot 31.6 percent in the final period and on one trip down court missed five shots -- four three-pointers and a long two-pointer by Chapman.

Washington trailed 94-93 after two free throws by Ellison with 5:11 left. A Ferrell dunk increased Atlanta's lead to three, but Chapman was fouled with 4:19 left.

However, Chapman, an 82.6 percent free-throw shooter, missed both -- Washington was perfect on its 15 free throws before that. And when Ferrell rebounded a miss and scored and Manning followed with a layup, Atlanta's lead was 100-93 with 3:32 left. Washington never got closer than six the rest of the game.

"We just couldn't stop them down the stretch," Unseld said. "We played well for most of the game."

With Kevin Willis sitting out because of the flu, Manning was forced to play power forward, and hit just two of seven shots in the first half. Atlanta trailed by eight late in the first quarter, but shot 70 percent in the second to take a 50-48 lead into the intermission.

"We missed some shots early and that allowed them to stay in the game," Atlanta coach Lenny Wilkens said. "Later we were able to pressure them and switch defensively, which allowed us to get some good offensive opportunities."

And Manning was able to take advantage of those late in the game, when the Hawks took control. In addition to his 22 points, Manning had 13 rebounds and seven assists.

"I'm feeling more comfortable every game," Manning said.

NOTES: With the activation of Chapman, G Calbert Cheaney was placed on the injured list. . . . F Kenny Walker, who fractured his right cheekbone on Feb. 15, may be activated for tomorrow's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. . . . Michael Adams had a game-high 12 assists.

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