Pack points way, helps Bullets dump Pistons Guard scores 26 points in 100-89 win over Detroit

November 05, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- In the end, those that remained in the sellout crowd at the USAir Arena stood up, and applauded loudly. They got their first glimpse up close of the 1995-96 version of the Washington Bullets, and they liked what they saw.

The Bullets got solid point guard play from Robert Pack. They got offensive support from forwards Rasheed Wallace and Juwan Howard and guard Calbert Cheaney. And they got key reserve minutes from Mitchell Butler on the way to a hard-fought 100-89 win over the Detroit Pistons before a crowd of 18,756.

With the status of injured Mark Price unknown going into the season, the Bullets had been prepared to open with either Brent Price or Doug Overton at the point. The trade for Pack was made on Monday, and the home fans got their first look at him last night. His numbers: 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes.

"He had a real nice game," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said of Pack. "He distributed the ball. We needed some insurance at the point-guard position with the injury to Mark Price, and Robert Pack fell out the sky right before the season. That was a major move."

Washington had trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but with 3:14 left the Bullets had managed a slim 91-88 lead. Playing in a tight situation on Friday in Philadelphia, the Bullets lost their poise. But last night they ended the game with a 9-1 run over the final three minutes, earning the team a standing ovation as they left the court.

Howard overcame a slow start to score 17 points. Rasheed Wallace, after a shaky start in Friday's season opener, looked better in scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds. And Calbert Cheaney had 12 points and six assists.

Butler provided a huge offensive lift, even though he scored just eight points in 23 minutes. He was aggressive going to the basket when the Bullets struggled offensively, did a good job defending Grant Hill (27 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and was even asked to play the point for part of the fourth quarter after Pack picked up his fifth foul with 8:16 left.

"Mitchell Butler came in and gave us some good offense," Wallace said. "And he also played some great defense on Grant Hill. He really gave us a lift."

Wallace scored two key baskets for the Bullets in the final five minutes, and said he carried a lot of emotion onto the court after finding out earlier in the day that a good friend of his from Philadelphia had died after suffering an asthma attack.

"I had to win for him," said Wallace. "I had to go out and play my heart out for him."

The Bullets had played the Pistons twice during the preseason, and lost both games. But this was the first time that Detroit (0-2) had played against the Bullets with Pack in the lineup.

Detroit defenders gave Pack a lot of room on his perimeter shots early in the game, and he responded by hitting open jumpers. Pack scored 16 points in the first quarter, and his ability to push the ball quickly up the court was a major lift for Washington.

"He was the difference," Hill said after the game of Pack.

Pack, who scored 15 points in Friday's loss, said it was important for him to get a good start in front of the home fans.

"I didn't put any added pressure on myself, but I did want us to win," Pack said. "I wanted everyone to know that we're here to win. I just want to come out with a positive attitude and help put the losing behind us."

There are going to be some adjustments as Pack gets used to his teammates. There wasn't a lot of ball distribution for the Bullets in the first quarter. Howard, after a 25-point game in the opener on Friday, didn't take his first shot until eight minutes had passed in the game.

But once the team adjusts, the Bullets are going to be an exciting team. When Pack gets the ball in the open floor he uses his quickness to turn the game into a track meet. That led to several easy transition baskets for the Bullets late in the game.

"It's a lot easier game when you gave guys getting out front on the break," Lynam said. "These guys have really played hard for two straight nights."

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