Bullets fade, Brown stars in Celtics' victory

March 25, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer LANDOVER

LANDOVER -- For 53 minutes at USAir Arena last night, the lottery-bound Washington Bullets and Boston Celtics -- both saddled with six game losing streaks -- performed with the fervor of teams vying for a NBA championship.

The last-place Bullets forced an overtime on a three-point shot by forward Tom Gugliotta with five seconds left in regulation.

But in the end, Washington again fell victim to its porous defense, with Dee Brown as the chief benefactor, scoring a career-high 38 points to lead the Celtics to a 123-117 victory before a crowd of 15,140.

"Defense has been our problem all year," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "We just don't have anyone who can block a shot. We double-team a lot, and that opens up a lot of high-percentage shots."

This problem has been magnified by the absences and ineffectual play of Pervis Ellison, the forward/center who returned to the injured list last night with an ailing right knee.

The Celtics were not the first team to expose the Bullets' vulnerability in the middle.

Brown, whose career has been marked by inconsistent play mixed with flashes of brilliance, was at the top of his game last night. The slender 6-foot-1 guard played all but one minute while hitting 15 of 26 shots, including 3-for-3 from three-point range.

Twenty of his points were crammed into the fourth quarter and overtime with the Celtics overcoming a 13-point (82-69) deficit late in the third quarter.

And when the Bullets tried keying on Brown, they were burned by rookie Dino Radja (20 points) in the low post and Kevin Gamble (15).

"Brown got most of his points off picks outside," said Unseld. "But Gamble was just driving down the middle, and no one was stoppinghim."

Center Marty Conlon, obtained by the Bullets off the waiver wire earlier yesterday, was pressed into immediate service and made all three of his shots in a four-minute stint.

For all their problems, the Bullets, led by Gugliotta (24 points) a resurgent Rex Chapman (22 points), Brent Price (18 points, 8 assists) and a career-high 13 rebounds from crowd favorite Gheorghe Muresan, were in control for three quarters.

But then came the familiar fourth-quarter swoon. The Celtics used a 26-10 spree to forge ahead, 99-94. They seemed to have it wrapped up, leading 105-100 with 1:51 remaining and again at 107-104 with just 12 seconds left before Gugliotta sent it to overtime.

ELLISON ON INJURED LIST AGAIN

LANDOVER -- After the team orthopedist gave clearance yesterday for Pervis Ellison to play on his chronic sore right knee the remainder of the season, the Washington Bullets placed the veteran center/forward on the injured list, further clouding his future with the team.

Earlier, Ellison had been informed by Dr. Steve Haas that strength tests Tuesday on his surgery-scarred knee had proved favorable.

But just before the Bullets took the floor against the Boston Celtics at USAir Arena last night, Ellison was informed by Bullets assistant general manager Chuck Douglas that he would have to sit out the next five games. With only 15 remaining, it is possible he will not suit up again this season.

He has already missed 20 games after sitting out the last 42 last season and undergoing surgery on both knees last summer.

Explaining the decision to shelve Ellison, Douglas said, "The prognosis was he wouldn't play for another week. We wanted to re-activate [rookie guard] Calbert Cheaney, who will rejoin us against New Jersey [tomorrow]."

The Washington Times speculated in a Wednesday story that the Bullets would choose not to re-sign Ellison next season. This story was refuted by Douglas, speaking for the team with general manager John Nash busy scouting the NCAA Eastern Regionals in Miami.

"Anything that is said or written now would be premature, and I'm not about to speculate" said Douglas. "It's been very difficult to evaluate Pervis this year because his knees have prevented him from playing with any consistency."

Ellison has averaged 7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.

With Ellison's playing status questionable, the Bullets yesterday claimed 6-foot-11 center Marty Conlon on waivers. Conlon, a 1991 Providence graduate, was cut by Charlotte on March 22.

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