Fourth-right Bullets top Pacers

March 04, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- It was a season that began with so much promise in November, only to see the team reduced to NBA-wide ridicule in December. But maybe, just maybe, there's something to this Washington Bullets team, after all.

Going against an Indiana Pacers team that entered the game just a game out of the lead in the Central Division, the Bullets played perhaps their best fourth quarter of the season in last night's 111-106 win before 13,129 at USAir Arena.

It was the second straight victory for the Bullets, marking the first time since late January that Washington had won back-to-back. And, if you ask Chris Webber, the Bullets will either win or lose with a fight the rest of the season.

"As soon as you let us breathe, we're going to try to kill you," said Webber, who in the fourth quarter drew a technical for stepping over a fallen Rik Smits, who had tried to trip the Bullets forward moments before. "We were nice to teams, and they weren't nice to us. Now we have that attitude on the court."

The attitude is fine, but it's going to take fourth quarters like the Bullets had last night to win games.

Washington had trailed by three early in the period but came on strong in the fourth. The Bullets hit 12 of 16 shots in the quarter, with Don MacLean scoring 11 in the period and Doug Overton adding seven, to take its first victory over the Pacers this season in four tries.

"We didn't fold down the stretch," Bullets guard Calbert Cheaney said of the final quarter, which featured nine ties and seven lead changes. "We didn't get timid. I think it was one of the best fourth quarters that we've played all season."

Despite that, for a while it appeared the impressive play might be for naught. Reggie Miller (21 points) had a quiet night for the Pacers, but when he scored on a reverse layup with 2:45 left, Indiana had a 101-100 lead.

All season at times like this, the Bullets have folded. But 15 seconds later Juwan Howard popped free from 17 feet and hit a jumper for a 102-101 lead. Then Cheaney drove the lane and hit a soft jumper. And then MacLean hit a 15-foot jumper. The Bullets had a 106-101 lead and the party at the arena was just getting cranked up.

Indiana twice pulled within two points, but the Bullets held on and improved to 15-41, taking their second win in a week over a team that was above .500 and headed for the playoffs (Washington defeated the Sacramento Kings last Saturday).

"All year long we've been in trouble trying to win games down the stretch," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "I hope this last stretch of games is a good sign. Teams are going to assert themselves, and you have to respond to that. That's what we've been lacking."

The Bullets have also lacked nights in which everybody is in sync. They got that last night. Howard scored 20 points, six coming in the final 2:30, and grabbed eight rebounds. MacLean had 19 points. Cheaney scored 18. Webber had 16 and 12 rebounds. And Scott Skiles, playing with the flu, scored 14 points and had nine assists.

"If you get five guys on the floor who are going to score 15-20, it's going to be tough to stop us," said MacLean, who was activated Tuesday after being on the injured list since December.

"I'm starting to feel better, I'm getting more in sync."

Even Kevin Duckworth contributed seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes. Duckworth had been suspended Tuesday for being overweight, but was activated before last night's game.

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