For once, Bullets get last laugh

April 18, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Maybe it was Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld's fashion statement. Maybe it was the arrival of center Kevin Duckworth -- about 5 1/2 months late, but welcome just the same. Maybe it was the opponent, a struggling Boston Celtics team.

Or maybe, for the Bullets, it was simply just time.

Whatever it was, the Bullets unloaded a season's worth of frustration yesterday, routing the Boston Celtics, 142-100, before at USAir Arena. The victory, which ended a three-game losing streak, improved Washington's record to 23-55, surpassing its win total of last season.

It was the season's biggest margin of victory for the Bullets and tied for the second-largest in franchise history. The Celtics tied the third-worst loss in the history of their proud franchise.

"We got embarrassed by a team that had a worse year than us," said Rick Fox of the Celtics, who had won two straight, including in double overtime over the Orlando Magic on Friday. "They just blew us out of the building."

Everything went right for Washington, which shot a season-high 59.8 percent, bettering the 58.1 percent on March 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers. All 12 Bullets scored, six in double figures.

"They really deserve this one," said Unseld, showing an expansion of his wardrobe by dumping the shirt-and-tie look in favor of a tan turtleneck. "It's nice to sit back at the end of a game and smile for a change."

It also was nice for Unseld to see forward Don MacLean bounce back from a subpar game against the Knicks in New York on Friday to score a team-high 21. A bonus was seeing Duckworth bounce back from a subpar season with a season-high 18 points.

"I think he's just trying to do this to me," Unseld said, shaking his head slightly, of Duckworth. "The last three games, he's been playing. He's been effective."

Those three games included two against the Knicks, against whom Duckworth had 13 points and 10 rebounds Friday. The 7-footer, who has expressed displeasure about his performance all season, appears to be sending a message.

"Unfortunately, this has been a bad year," Duckworth said. "I'm looking forward to next season, and I'm starting to prepare for it now."

Tom Gugliotta, who had 18 points and seven rebounds, was impressed.

"I haven't seen him that quick in the post all season," Gugliotta said of Duckworth. "He was just bouncing around [Robert] Parish."

Asked if he was tired about all the criticism directed at him this season (one fan shouted yesterday, "Hey, Duckworth, is it dinner time?"), he responded: "I take hits all across the country. I'd like to see them come out and take my job."

Duckworth gave the Bullets a solid effort from the center position, which has been lacking all season. His numbers yesterday along with Marty Conlon (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Gheorghe Muresan (six

points, two rebounds) gave the Bullets 40 points (67 percent from the field) and 19 rebounds from the post.

Muresan provided one of the game highlights midway through the fourth quarter. He received a pass from Calbert Cheaney at the three-point arc and, two giant steps later, scored on what quite possibly could be the greatest distance ever covered on a layup.

"I didn't know if I should smile or cry," Unseld said. "If he did it once, I was afraid that he would do it again."

That Unseld had the option to smile or cry told you it was a special day for the Bullets, who have four games remaining. The combination of injuries and disappointing performances has put a damper on a season that started with high expectations. For the players, just to experience a blowout win was enjoyable.

"It's been a rough season, but we were able to click on all cylinders," Gugliotta said. "We want to build on it, but we also want to keep it in perspective. We know that Boston didn't play a good game."


MA The largest margins of victory in Washington Bullets history:

Mar. Date .. Opponent .. Score

49 11/24/70 Portland .. .156-107

49 11/17/78 New Jersey ..143-94

42 1/1/68 San Diego .. ..156-114

42 4/17/94 Boston .. ... 142-100

40 2/27/66 Boston .. ... 132-92

37 11/13/74 Sacramento ..118-81

36 11/21/72 Buffalo .. ..124-88

35 12/27/69 San Fran. .. 147-112

35 3/29/81 Cleveland .. .138-103

34 4/3/92 Detroit .. ... 119-85

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