Pistons pin 90-82 loss on Bullets Washington loses 4th in five road games

January 07, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Going into last night, the Washington Bullets were the best shooting team, and facing a Detroit Pistons team that had allowed the second fewest points.

Obviously, something had to give.

Looking to sweep the three-game series with the Pistons this season, the Bullets instead could get nothing going offensively for the better part of three quarters on the way to a 90-82 loss at the Palace.

At one point in the third quarter, the Bullets trailed by 28 points, and only made the final score respectable with an impressive fourth-quarter run. But the Bullets (16-15) had dug themselves too big a hole, and lost for the fourth time in their last five road games.

It was an awful day for the Bullets' front court. Juwan Howard had scored in double figures in every game this season, but had just six points last night on two of 15 from the field. Rasheed Wallace, starting at power forward, had three points and Gheorghe Muresan 11.

Robert Pack led the Bullets with 14 points, but all of those came in the first quarter. He didn't even get off the bench in the fourth quarter, which may have had something to do with his recording just one assist.

Both Allan Houston and Grant Hill each scored 25 to lead the Pistons.

Trailing 79-52 going into the final quarter, three of Washington's first four field goals in the fourth were 3-pointers by Ledell Eackles. And that helped the Bullets get off to a 20-6 run, closing to 85-72 after a lay-up by Tim Legler with 4:48 left.

With 2:59 left, the Bullets were within 86-75 after a three-pointer by Brent Price. But that was as close as it would get, with the Bullets losing the opening game of their three-game road trip.

While the Bullets entered the game winners in four of their last five games and nine of their last 13, most of the success had come at home. On the road, Washington had lost three of four.

And they were taking on a Detroit team that was much improved over the last month, winning four of its last five.

Despite getting no points in the first quarter from three starters (Rasheed Wallace, Gheorghe Muresan and Ledell Eackles), the Bullets were still competitive over the first six minutes, leading, 13-12, after a free throw by Howard with 5:58 left.

Then the Pistons took command, mainly behind the shooting of Allan Houston. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard, in his third season, scored the final nine points of an 11-0 run, the final points coming on a three-pointer with 2:43 left that gave Detroit a 23-12 lead.

Houston would score 11 points in the quarter, hitting all five of his shots. And with Grant Hill and Otis Thorpe each adding six, the Pistons, behind 55.0 percent shooting, had a 27-17 lead going into the second quarter.

Bullets point guard Robert Pack had a good first quarter, scoring 14 points. But Pack didn't have any of Washington's four first-quarter assists, indicating a problem offensively.

Pack was on the bench at the start of the second quarter, when the Bullets started four reserves. With coach Jim Lynam slowly working his starters back in, the Bullets were able to start the quarter with a 12-3 run that, after a jumper by Muresan, had the Bullets within 32-29.

But there weren't any other highlights for the Bullets the rest of the half. Detroit coach Doug Collins also had his starters out at the start of the second quarter, and when they returned, so did the team's dominance. Hill scored five points during a 7-0 run that, after a jumper by Joe Dumars, increased the lead to 39-29 with 5:42 left. Detroit would lead by as many as 12 points and, with Houston and Hill each scoring 13 points and Thorpe 12, the Pistons had a 48-38 halftime lead.

In the third, the Bullets went from bad to worse. After shooting just 41.7 percent in the first half, the Bullets went nearly five minutes before Muresan hit the team's first field goal of the quarter with 7:11 left. The Bullets had just two field goals for nearly the first 11 minutes of the quarter, and wound up hitting five of 17 (29.4 percent).

From the line, it was no better, with the Bullets hitting just three of 12 free throws in the quarter. Meanwhile Detroit led in the quarter by as many as 28 points, and had a 79-52 lead going into the final quarter.

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