Webber steps up, but Bullets go down

November 27, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Chris Webber was being the force the Washington Bullets expected he would be, scoring, rebounding and intimidating in the middle. Unfortunately for the Bullets, most of his teammates didn't see fit to join the party.

Webber scored 22 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, and Don MacLean had a game-high 23 points last night, but the Bullets were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-96, before a sellout crowd of 18,756 at USAir Arena.

The Bullets, playing their third game of a five-game homestand including Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Baltimore, wasted a golden opportunity to get on track. The growing process has been slow since the team added Webber and Juwan Howard, who played their third game with the Bullets (4-6) last night. The loss extended the team's losing streak to five games.

"Let's be honest: that's why they have training camp," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "If you think you're going to accomplish in four days what you got done in four weeks of training camp, it's unrealistic."

Don't tell that to the fans, who greeted the new-look Bullets with a great deal of anticipation. A week ago against the Boston Celtics, Washington fans cheered the Bullets after they walked off the court with a one-point defeat.

Last night, the boo-birds were out in force at the end.

It was the third game of a four-game road trip for the Lakers, who appeared ready to be taken. Instead, the Lakers ran circles around the Bullets, with Nick Van Exel's 22 points leading seven Lakers in double figures.

Former Phoenix Suns forward Cedric Ceballos, playing his first season for Los Angeles, had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who won their fourth straight.

Again, it was a night in which the Bullets had trouble containing the opponent's backcourt. On Friday, Mark Price penetrated and dished at will in helping the Cavaliers beat Washington at the Baltimore Arena. Last night, Van Exel scored and dished off for 13 assists, and Sedale Threatt scored 14 points (7-for-10 from the field) in 19 minutes off the bench.

"Van Exel got most of his shots in transition," said Bullets point guard Scott Skiles, who had four points and seven assists in 28 minutes. "I just don't think we were sharp the whole game. The whole game we missed a lot of shots."

The Bullets shot 41.0 percent -- including 0-for-11 from three-point range.

"We made no three-pointers, they shot eight of 17 from the three-point line," Lynam said. "That's tough to overcome."

Also tough to overcome was the absence in the second half of Kevin Duckworth, who suffered a pulled right groin muscle in the second quarter of Friday's game. Duckworth played 15 minutes in the first half, scoring one point and grabbing one rebound. He did not play in the second half.

L "It's sore," Duckworth said afterward. "I just couldn't go."

That left Webber, who didn't like playing center at Golden State, in the middle for most of the second half. And Webber handled it quite well, scoring 10 of his points and grabbing nine rebounds after halftime.

But there were some problems. At times, Webber cut free into the lane, and teammates didn't see him or weren't able to deliver him the ball.

"I'm sure it's going to take some time [to adjust]," Webber said.

The Bullets were never really in the game, beginning with sloppy play in the first quarter when they committed six turnovers. By the third quarter the Bullets had fallen behind by 19 points and were unable to generate a comeback.

"There's not a whole lot you can do when you play from a 10-point deficit throughout the whole game," Lynam said.

Washington was out-rebounded, 54-47, for the game despite having an 18-16 edge on the offensive end. A problem on the boards won't help with the New York Knicks looming Tuesday.

"I don't know what it is," Skiles said. "We're not as sharp as we once were. We have to try to recapture our early season activity."

And try to gain a few victories. In December, the Bullets will play 10 of 16 games on the road, including a four-game trip through Texas and Denver, and a four-game swing through Phoenix and the West Coast. It's not a easy road, which makes this HTC homestand important.

"We lost as a team, and we'll win as a team," Webber said. "It's not going to stay like this."

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