Bullets' rally leaves them short of Sixers

March 01, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets had a golden opportunity last night to put a rare winning streak together. The Philadelphia 76ers were just a game ahead of them in the standings and came into the USAir Arena with a four-game losing streak.

But the Bullets could not take advantage, and the Sixers held off a late Washington rally for a 106-102 win before 12,209. Clarence Weatherspoon, in just his second game back from the injured list after missing five games with a sprained ankle, scored 30 points, Dana Barros had 20 and Sharone Wright and Jeff Grayer each added 17 to lead the Sixers.

Juwan Howard scored 20 points and Scott Skiles added 19 for Washington, which was attempting to put together its first winning streak since last month when the Bullets beat Philadelphia and New Jersey in back-to-back games.

Trailing 83-76 going into the fourth quarter, the Bullets came back behind the heroics of reserve guard Mitchell Butler. Butler opened the fourth quarter with a dunk, as the Bullets scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter. When Don MacLean hit a three-pointer from the right side for his first field goal of the game the Bullets were tied at 83 with 10:55 left.

In all, the Bullets opened the fourth with a 17-4 run (Butler had eight during the run) and after Gheorghe Muresan grabbed a rebound and scored on a layup with 7:10 left the Bullets had a 93-87 lead.

But Philadelphia scored the next seven points. Barros got things started with a three-pointer. Weatherspoon ended the run with a short jumper, and the Sixers had a 97-93 lead with 3:53 left.

The Bullets had a chance to tie the game and go ahead. Down 101-99 with 1:24 left, Chris Webber went to the line with two free throws he hit the first and missed the second. MacLean grabbed Webber's miss, giving the Bullets a chance to take the lead.

But Howard, double-teamed in the low post, threw a lob to Webber on a play similar to the one that helped the Bullets beat the Kings on Saturday night.

But the pass last night was deflected, giving the Sixers the ball. And Weatherspoon hit a jumper from the key on the other end with 48 seconds left, increasing the Sixers lead to 103-100. Barros hit two free throws with 9.7 seconds left, and Philadelphia had the game.

In a game matching the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bullets shot 51.4 percent in the first half and despite 15 turnovers had a 55-48 halftime lead.

Washington benefited from a big first half by Calbert Cheaney, who hit six of nine shots from the field in the first half and scored a team-high 14 points.

It was all Washington in the early going, with the Bullets leading by as many as 13 points in the first quarter. Washington's lead was 9-6 when Cheaney scored the first five points of an 8-0 run, capped by a Chris Webber dunk that made it 17-6 with 7:02 left.

MacLean, who hadn't played since December when he was put on the injured list with tendinitis in both knees, checked in for the first time with 6:21 left after Howard picked up his second foul. MacLean would score just one point in the half, with his free throw with 5:04 left giving the Bullets their biggest lead, 21-8.

Cheaney was the first-quarter spark. He scored 10 points in the first 12 minutes, hitting four of seven shots from the field. Cheaney scored six of Washington's last eight points of the quarter that helped the Bullets to a 32-23 lead.

The Sixers tried to get back into the game behind Wright, who scored nine of his 15 first-half points in the second quarter. Wright scored eight of Philadelphia's first 12 points in the second quarter, and his dunk with 7:09 left had the Sixers within 41-35.

Philadelphia would later fall behind by eight points, with a three-pointer by Skiles (13 first half points) giving the Bullets a 49-41 lead. But the Sixers scored the next five points, and got to within 49-46 after Barros hit a three-pointer with 1:51 left.

Washington was hurt by 11 turnovers in the second quarter, which resulted in 11 Philadelphia points. But the Bullets ended the quarter outscoring the Sixers, 6-2, and had the 55-48 halftime lead.

The Bullets were able to increase their lead to 59-50 after Cheaney grabbed his own miss and scored on a layup a minute and half into the third quarter. Then the Sixers came back with a 12-2 run to give the Sixers a 62-61 lead.

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