Butler points his game in new direction

January 30, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

Mitchell Butler's game is one of explosiveness, filling the lane on the break or finishing off a drive with one of his electrifying dunks.

The Washington Bullets' second-year swingman is not exactly the type of guy who would strike fear into an opposing team by running the point.

But Butler did just that on Saturday night, playing point guard over the last 8:35 and helping the Bullets overcome a 15-point second-half deficit in their 93-87 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The win was the fourth in six games for the Bullets, who probably wouldn't have done it without Butler. He filled the void when point guard Scott Skiles was thrown out in the second quarter.

"For a first effort, I think it went pretty good," Butler said of his stint at the point, something he did sparingly under Wes Unseld last season. "We're a little bit short there. It made my job easier with the guys hitting their shots."

Butler finished the game with six points and three assists, and had just three points and one assist during the fourth quarter. But the Bullets hit 72.7 percent of their shots in the fourth quarter, and the offense moved smoothly with him at the point. The Bullets trailed by nine points when Doug Overton left the game, prompting the move, and then finished the game with a 26-11 run.

Like a year ago when he made the team as a free agent, Butler's job has been to come off the bench and spark the team. He has done that at either shooting guard or small forward and, after spending time at a shooting camp over the summer, has shown an improvement in his shot.

Last year Butler missed all five of his three-point attempts. With the arc moved in this year, Butler has hit 27 of 75 (36.0 percent), and has been shooting with confidence.

He missed his only three-point attempt against the Clippers, but his job in the fourth quarter was to be something other than a shooter.

"I need the ball to get going -- it gives me confidence when I have the ball," Butler said. "Ultimately [Bullets coach Jim Lynam] thinks that's the best position for me."

The Bullets also got another solid game from Juwan Howard (25 points, 13 rebounds). Rex Chapman added 24 points, and Calbert Cheaney came back from his career-high 32 points against Golden State on Thursday with 23 points.

NOTES: Tomorrow's game is the last of the month for the Bullets, who then will play five of their next six on the road. They should be stronger, with F Chris Webber possibly returning this week. . . . Due to the snow, unused tickets for Saturday's game can be exchanged for tickets to the Feb. 21 game against Dallas.

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