Stumbling Bullets drop fifth straight

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

LANDOVER -- This game figured to be a golden opportunity for the Washington Bullets, a chance to end a four-game losing streak with a victory over the road-weary Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, it was the Lakers with the fresh legs, giving their 1990s version of "Showtime."

The Lakers ran circles around the Bullets, with second-year guard Nick Van Exel's 22 points leading seven players in double figures in a 112-96 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,756 last night at USAir Arena.

Cedric Ceballos, playing his first season with the Lakers, had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Van Exel also had 13 assists.

A week ago, the Washington fans were giving the new-look Bullets a standing ovation after their one-point loss to the Boston Celtics -- a game that marked the debuts of Chris Webber and Juwan Howard. But the fans who remained to the end last night had some long, loud boos for the Bullets, who committed 18 turnovers and were out-rebounded 54-47, by

Don MacLean scored 23 points, and Webber added 22 points and 20 rebounds for the Bullets, who dropped their fifth straight. It was the third straight game in a five-game homestand for Washington (4-6).

MacLean got Washington off to a good start, scoring seven points in the first six minutes of the first quarter that helped the Bullets to a 13-11 lead.

Rookie guard Eddie Jones had the hot hand for the Lakers, scoring nine of their first 11 points. Then Van Exel began to heat up, scoring 11 during a 17-4 run that gave Los Angeles a 28-17 lead after his three-pointer with 1:49 left.

Webber, who gave the crowd a thrill early in the game when he wrapped the ball around his back on the way to a fast-break dunk, scored the final four points of the quarter. His dunk, off a lob from Howard, with 6.9 seconds left, pulled the Bullets to within 28-21.

Washington was sloppy with the basketball in the first quarter, committing six turnovers. The Bullets shot just 39.1 percent from the field. While they continued to have problems offensively at the start of the second quarter, reserve guard Sedale Threatt came off the bench to spark the Lakers, scoring eight of their first 11 points. After a three-pointer by Anthony Peeler with 7:08 left, the Lakers had a 39-28 lead.

It appeared the Bullets were having trouble getting Webber involved in the offense, and his frustration became evident as he slid free into the lane several times and didn't get the ball. Meanwhile, the Lakers built a 14-point lead after a tip by Ceballos with 3:04 left.

Washington's newcomers wound up scoring eight of Washington's final 10 points of the half -- six by Howard and two by Webber. Two free throws by Howard with 0.8 seconds left had the Bullets to within 55-47 at the half, even though they shot just 39.5 percent from the field. Webber's 12 points and nine rebounds in the half led the Bullets, with MacLean adding nine. Van Exel scored 12 points, Jones 11 and Ceballos 10 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers.

When the second half started, the Bullets were without Kevin Duckworth, who suffered a slight groin pull in Friday's loss to Cleveland. Duckworth had one point and one rebound in the first half.

Webber was forced to play center, and he quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls -- the fourth coming with 8:48 left in the third.

Los Angeles increased its lead to 65-53 after a jumper by Vlade Divac. But a 12-6 run by the Bullets -- with all the points coming from the front line -- had them within 71-65 after a jumper by MacLean with 4:50 left.

But the spurt was short-lived, and the Lakers scored nine straight points over the next 2:03, increasing their lead to 80-65 after a three-pointer by Van Exel with 2:34 left. Los Angeles would lead by as many as 19 after a free throw by Campbell made it 89-70 with 33.5 seconds left -- bringing out the arena boo-birds. The Lakers would take an 89-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Gheorghe Muresan, who has missed the past four games with a sprained left knee, was given the OK to practice. . . . The five-game homestand continues Tuesday when the Bullets meet the defending Eastern Conference champion New

York Knicks.

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