Knicks struggle to title, beating Bullets, 111-106

April 15, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Give the Washington Bullets credit: Most teams in their losing predicament simply go through the motions at this time of the season. But instead of packing it in last night against the New York Knicks, the Bullets actually came through with an effort that showed a lot of pride.

Pride doesn't always translate into wins, and it didn't last night as New York defeated Washington, 111-106, to clinch the Atlantic Division title. But the Bullets at least played with the type of effort that made the Washington fans among the crowd of 16,022 at the USAir Arena proud.

"We gave everything we had tonight," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "A couple of mistakes kept us from winning the ballgame. If we are going to lose any game, I want it to be from way out. We didn't lose tonight on a drive to the bucket."

No, last night the Bullets lost on a pair of huge jump shots by Rolando Blackman. With the game tied at 100 after a three-pointer by Michael Adams, Blackman responded with a three-pointer with 1:01 left that gave New York a 103-100 lead. Later, after the Bullets cut the lead to one, Blackman again hit a jumper with 38.7 seconds left to seal the win.

The Bullets were able to pull to within a point twice after that. But, forced to foul, they were never able to get over the hump.

"Calbert [Cheaney] backed up and I had a clear shot," Blackman said of his three. "Patrick [Ewing] was covered and I had a shot and I'm glad. When you make a big shot like that to help the team, you feel good."

It wasn't quite the way the Knicks expected to end their three-game losing streak, and walking off the court the New York players looked as if they had lost the game. But the division-clinching win allowed New York to pull even with Atlanta for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"This is only the steppingstone," said Ewing, who scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. "This [title] means a lot, but we want the best record in the East."

The Bullets have the worst record in the division (22-54), and fell 31 games behind the Knicks. But there wasn't that much difference between the two teams on the court. Don MacLean scored 23 points, Cheaney 21 and Adams 20 (and 10 assists) to lead Washington.

"We have nothing to lose in games like this," said Kenny Walker, a former first-round pick of the Knicks. "They have big bodies and good athletes, and eventually New York will wear you down."

Still, the signs were alarming for the Knicks, who allowed their fourth straight foe to score over 100 points.

Washington led 84-83 after a third quarter that contained 12 lead changes. This against a New York team that had allowed 85 or fewer points in 24 games this season. It was the first time that Washington was able to score over 84 points against the Knicks this season.

"The Bullets always play us tough," Ewing said. "We need to be more aggressive."

NOTES: Maryland coach Gary Williams was seated by the Bullets bench. . . . Comedian Richard Lewis, a Knicks fan, was at the game.

BULLETS TONIGHT

Opponent: New York Knicks

Site: Madison Square Garden, New York

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: Channel 20/WXZL (103.1 FM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: The Knicks have not lost to the Bullets this season. New York is in position to finish first to third in the Eastern

Conference. The Bullets, who have lost seven straight in New York, are jockeying for lottery position.

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