Playing time sensitive issue for Pack Guard wants to play even with Price back

January 08, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- It was obvious from the expression on his face that Robert Pack was not pleased with what was going on. It was the fourth quarter, the Washington Bullets were making an impressive run in what turned out to be a loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, and Pack remained glued to the bench.

"There's a lot of things that can go through your mind," Pack said. "When you're in the situation that I'm in, you wonder and you try to figure out how things are going to fit."

The situation is this: The Bullets acquired Pack just before the start of the season, when it became clear that Mark Price would not be ready and would eventually need surgery on his left foot.

Now Price has been activated, and yesterday went through his most extensive practice as he prepares to play his first game for the Bullets. Which brings about a rather delicate question: Who does coach Jim Lynam play?

"I was brought here because [Price] got hurt and I feel like it's my job, and I'll continue to play like that," Pack said. "It's something Jimmy's going to have to come up with a solution to, because it's an issue."

Pack was surprised on Saturday when, after the Bullets cut a 28-point deficit to 13 with just under five minutes to play in what was eventually a 90-82 loss, that he wasn't called. Pack scored 14 points, all in the first quarter, in 23 minutes. He had one assist and six turnovers, and wound up sitting out the final 18 minutes.

Yesterday he spoke to Lynam about his benching. "I expressed to Jimmy that I wanted to play, and I didn't feel like I should have been out," Pack said. "Whether we get blown out or come back, I want to be a part of it. The way things were going, I feel like I could have contributed instead of sitting on the bench."

Lynam said when he pulled Pack and Juwan Howard in the third, he didn't want the two playing extensive minutes in a blowout. When the reserves got the Bullets back in the game, Lynam put Howard back in but left Pack on the bench.

"There are nights when your starters just don't have it," Lynam said. "And if your other guys do enough to bring you back, they deserve a chance."

Lynam said he's not clear what he'll do once Price returns.

"Somehow, someway I'll [divide] the time the best I can with one thought in mind -- what's best for this team," Lynam said. "You have to be careful not to do something just to satisfy minutes."

Asked whether Pack might be looking over his shoulder, Lynam said, "That would be human nature."

What happens once Price comes back could have long-term repercussions. Price is signed for the rest of the season.

Pack also will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"I want to continue and play well and let the contract happen," Pack said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned with the way the [contract] is going to go for me because it's something I've worked hard for to get myself in that position. At the same time, I do want this team to win and make the playoffs and that's my main concern.

"It's Jimmy's decision which way he wants to go with the team, and I guess I'll have to live with it," Pack said.

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Cleveland Cavaliers

Site: Gund Arena, Cleveland

Time: 7:30

Radio: WTEM (570 AM), WWLG (1360 AM)

Outlook: The Cavaliers have made it look fairly easy in two games against Washington this season, beating the Bullets by an average of 10 points a game. Cleveland (17-13) is coming off a win Saturday over Orlando, which was without Shaquille O'Neal and Nick Anderson. The Bullets, with nine straight losses in Cleveland dating to 1990, will have to defend the pick-and-roll better for a chance to win. F Juwan Howard is coming off a six-point game in Saturday's loss in Detroit, the first time this season he failed to score in double figures.

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