Overton relishes 'special teams'

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

MIAMI -- In the Washington Bullets' locker room Saturday after their win over the Miami Heat, Doug Overton did something he rarely did last season -- he smiled.

His line for the night was two points, one assist and one rebound in 13 minutes. But when the Bullets put the game away in the fourth quarter, it was the reserve point guard who was on the court running the show.

"Special teams, baby," Overton shouted just after the Bullets improved to 4-1 with a 109-99 win over the Heat. "Kickoffs, punt returns, whatever. We're the special teams."

Special teams refers to the Bullets' bench, which, for the second game in a row, was instrumental in a victory. On a night when the Bullets established two team records for three-pointers -- a team total of 12, breaking the record of eight, and Rex Chapman's eight, besting Michael Adams' mark by two -- the talk afterward focused on the bench.

"The guys came off the bench and did a nice job," said Scott Skiles, who had 13 points and eight assists in 36 minutes. "We're going to need that."

Don MacLean, who's now coming off the bench after missing the first two games with a blister on his foot, scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Mitchell Butler had 12 points in 19 minutes.

With an eight-point lead after three quarters, coach Jim Lynam had four reserves and starter Calbert Cheaney start the fourth. That group played the first 6:03 of the final period, and had built the lead to 10 by the time Lynam began to insert his well-rested starters.

"They're playing hard -- the whole team is playing hard," said Lynam. "And it's all getting done with our defense."

How well did the reserves play? So well that they probably cost Chapman, who finished with 30 points, a shot at the league record for three-pointers (10).

Chapman hit his eighth three-pointer with 7:24 left in the third quarter. And when Lynam replaced him with Butler with 4:07 left, it was with designs of resting his top scorer for the fourth quarter.

But then Butler got hot, scoring six straight points and helping build the lead to 13. He played so well that Chapman didn't get back into the game until there was 5:57 left.

By then, Washington was ahead by 10 and looking more to control the ball than to score. Chapman didn't even attempt a three-point shot after he returned.

"All we wanted to do at that point was pass the ball around, and get the win," Chapman said.

And thus the shouting of "special teams" in the locker room afterward.There isn't a happier player on the team this season than Overton, who last season was in the bench group that called itself "The Dog Pound," but played much of the season in coach Wes Unseld's doghouse.

After averaging 8.1 points his rookie season, Overton might have been able to challenge Adams for the starting job last season. Instead, he started just one game, played in 61 and averaged 3.6 points.

His confidence shot, Overton saw the hiring of Lynam as a new opportunity. Overton averages only 4.0 points, but he's playing a little more than 15 minutes per game as Skiles' only backup.

"Am I happier with my role? It looks like it, doesn't it?" Overton said. "I know exactly when I'm going into a game, which is a lot different from last year.

"And look what we've done the last two games -- the bench has really picked the team up. It's nice when we come in afterward and the rest of the team acknowledges that."

Tomorrow night in Orlando, the Bullets will try to match their best start since the 1989-90 season, when they went 5-1. The Magic will have a little extra incentive after losing its season opener in Washington.

"Once we played Orlando and opened with a win, it's been contagious," Overton said. "We've already started out beating three playoff teams in the first five games. Now, we're starting to feel we we can play, and beat, anybody."

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