Sixers' 15-game slide ends against Bullets

March 14, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Coming into yesterday's game, the Philadelphia 76ers had dropped 15 straight games. But there's something about facing the Washington Bullets that apparently brings out the best in struggling teams.

Looking to conclude their five-game homestand with a winning record, the Bullets instead will begin a five-game trip with a sense of frustration after their 114-97 loss before 14,311 at USAir Arena.

During the losing streak, the Sixers lost by an average of 18.1 points. Nine games were lost by 15 or more, including a 37-point defeat to the Miami Heat on March 5 and a 35-point loss to the New York Knicks that began the streak on Feb. 9.

But anything that had been pent up inside the Sixers just exploded yesterday. Six of them scored in double figures, led by Clarence Weatherspoon's 28.

The Sixers shot 51.2 percent for the game, with most of those baskets coming on layups. And the Sixers held Washington under 100 points -- just the third time that's happened in 16 games.

"We allowed them to score too many easy baskets, and that's where we lost it," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "What hurt us the most on offense is that we settled on jump shots, and we're not always good jump-shot shooters."

Asked if his team had been overconfident going into the game against a team with a long losing streak, Unseld said: "We should never go into anything overconfident."

The Bullets were in control early, leading by eight late in the first quarter. But the Sixers got within 23-19 by quarter's end.

"When you lose, everybody loses an edge," Sixers coach Fred Carter said. "In the first quarter, we got going."

And in the second quarter the Sixers' momentum continued on the strength of a 12-0 run capped by a layup by Orlando Woolridge (13 points) that gave Philadelphia a 41-35 lead. From there, the Sixers never were threatened. "I've been on teams that have been in similar situations," Rex Chapman said of the Sixers and their losing streak. "If you get on a team like that early, you take them out. We got on them early, but we couldn't put them away."

Weatherspoon virtually ended it in the third quarter, when he scored 14 points. His final points of the quarter -- two free throws with 1:22 left -- gave the Sixers an 85-69 lead. Philadelphia had an 87-70 lead at the end of the quarter after a jumper by Dana Barros just before the buzzer, and led by as many as 25 in the final quarter.

"The monkey on our back had grown to be an ape," Carter said. "He had grown so heavy, I thought his family was [up] there."

In addition to his 28 points, Weatherspoon had 12 rebounds. Former Bullets guard Jeff Malone scored 21.

Having failed to win on their home court against a struggling team, the Bullets might have problems having a chance in the next eight days, when they play on the road against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland, Denver and Houston. The Bullets are 1-9 when playing more than two straight on the road this season, and were 5-13 under similar extended trips last season.

"We have a tough road trip, playing some great teams," said Tom Gugliotta, who had 23 points to lead the Bullets. "We have to go out and try to win. We're going on the West Coast, but everybody has to do it. Our problem is we only have seven or eight guys, and we keep getting guys on 10-day contracts.

"We just didn't play like we did [Friday's win] against Denver -- moving the ball around, getting geting easy shots."

NOTES: Chapman played 37 minutes and scored 20 points, after missing Friday's game with a hyper-extended right knee. . . . Doug Overton (strained right hamstring) sat out. He might be ready during the road trip. . . . Mitchell Butler hurt his shoulder at the end of the fourth quarter. His status was not immediately known.

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