Bullets' win streak ends at one, 120-115

January 20, 1995|By Robb Arent | Robb Arent,Special to The Sun

MILWAUKEE -- The Washington Bullets fouled up their chance to extend their winning streak to two games when they fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 120-115, last night.

The Bullets hung close, but in the end, giving the Bucks 53 free-throw opportunities made the difference.

"It's a discouraging loss because you have to be so much better in a lot of areas to make up the disparity in free throws attempted," said Washington coach Jim Lynam. "Our fourth-quarter defense was good, but the disparity in free throws attempted took the game out of reach."

Milwaukee (14-23) converted 44 of the 53 attempts, both season highs. The Bucks hit 16 of 18 free throws in the final period to clinch their first three-game streak since Feb. 27-March 5, 1993. The Bullets (8-27) made 19 of their 21 attempts.

Washington failed to put together a second straight win after knocking off the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

"It is not good shooting from our side," said Calbert Cheaney, who finished with 21 points. "For their side, they got 53 shots from the line. That's pretty good."

Milwaukee led 109-106 when Glenn Robinson stole the ball from Cheaney and hit a layup, keying an 8-0 spurt that put the Bucks on top 115-106 with three minutes left.

Cheaney struck back for Washington with a pair of free throws with 2:45 remaining. A steal and Rex Chapman's three-pointer pulled the Bullets to within 115-111 with 2:34 remaining, but they got no closer as Milwaukee hit five of six free throws after that.

"This is definitely a game that our team should have won," said Chapman.

"Unfortunately, we broke down defensively on the court. We got behind and struggled to come back."

Robinson finished with 30 points and Todd Day had 29 for the Bucks; Chapman finished with 30 for Washington. Scott Skiles added 22 points and 12 assists.

"I felt coming in that we had a pretty good chance to beat these guys," said Robinson, the top pick in last year's draft. "I hope that we can use this as a springboard and carry it through the rest of the season."

Vin Baker, who had 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, left the game with 1:21 remaining with a bruised left knee.

"I think that we're starting as a team to expect to win," said Day, who was 5-for-6 from three-point range. That's the big difference. Once you start winning, your confidence picks up and that's what's happening to us."

Milwaukee finished the first half with a 61-59 lead.

Trailing 54-51, the Bucks rallied with a 10-5 run in the final 2:44 of the first half to grab the halftime lead.

Milwaukee continued strong in the third quarter, pulling out to its largest lead, 81-72, with 5:18 remaining.

"When the free-throw disparity is as big as it was, you're going to lose," Skiles said. "Thirty more free throws for them requires that you play so much better in all of the other areas of the game."

The Bullets answered with a 17-8 run to tie the game at 89. Cheaney led the way with 10 of his 12 third-quarter points, including an eight-foot baseline jumper to tie the game.

The Bucks finished the period ahead 92-89.

Washington suffered defensive troubles in the paint in the first quarter. Starting center Gheorghe Muresan was benched at 8:14 after drawing his second foul. Muresan's replacement, Jim McIlvaine, returned to the bench one minute later with two fouls.

Milwaukee was unable to capitalize on the Bullets' foul troubles, hitting only three of its first eight from the line. It settled down after that and hit 41 of its next 45.

"The early foul trouble for us was a big factor," said Lynam. "Offensively, we played very well, but when we tried to double down on defense, we let the Bucks get too many open shots."

Muresan did not play again until the start of the second half.

It was a collegiate homecoming for McIlvaine, who played his college home games for Marquette at the Bradley Center.

McIlvaine finished with two points.

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