Bullets' Wallace is out for season His fractured left thumb dims team's playoff hopes

March 24, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

BOWIE - If there was some way any way that the Washington Bullets could get Rasheed Wallace back in uniform, the team definitely was going to give it a try. But after a bit of experimenting with various splints on Wallace's fractured left thumb, the attempts proved futile.

"We played around with some stuff, but the bottom line is that you have to let that fracture heal," said Bullets trainer Kevin Johnson. "There's just no way we can do it it's too long a shot."

And so the word that came down after Friday night's overtime loss to the Orlando Magic was accurate Wallace will miss the rest of the season as he recovers from the fracture believed to have occurred when an Orlando player swatted down on the hand as Wallace had the basketball.

Wallace who joins Chris Webber (shoulder surgery), Mark Price (cracked bone in left foot) and Robert Pack (damaged nerve in right leg) on the sidelines was at practice briefly yesterday, leaving early after being fitted with different splints.

"He was fine, I think," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "I think he was probably a bit disappointed."

Disappointed, perhaps, because the Bullets, with 15 games remaining, still have a shot at the playoffs. But the hopes of catching the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets, who hold the eighth and ninth spots in the Eastern Conference, respectively, grow dimmer with Wallace out.

General manger John Nash was scrambling yesterday to find a big body for the season's final month.

"I'm not expecting a guy to be all-world," said Lynam, who added that 7-foot forward/center Geert Hammink a reserve with Orlando last season is one of the players being considered. "I would like a guy who has NBA experience."

Regardless of whom the Bullets pick up, Lynam will be forced into playing a smaller lineup.

He is expected to move Juwan Howard from small forward to power forward, Calbert Cheaney from shooting guard to small forward, and Ledell Eackles from reserve to shooting guard. Mitchell Butler, who has not played the past three games, probably will get a spot in the rotation.

"Rasheed's a great player and we're going to miss him," Eackles said. "But we just have to play on."

Hurting

Injuries to key players have put a strain on the Bullets:

Chris Webber: Dislocated left shoulder Oct. 21, missed 11 games; reinjured shoulder

Dec. 29, had surgery Feb. 1; out for the season.

Mark Price: Had surgery to repair tendon in left foot Nov. 11, missed first 32 games; fractured bone in left foot Feb. 24; out for the season.

Calbert Cheaney: Strained ligaments in left ankle Dec. 23, missed 11 games.

Robert Pack: Damaged nerve in right leg Jan. 8, has missed the past 35 games.

Rasheed Wallace: Fractured left thumb March 22; out for season.

Bullets today

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 3: 30 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: The Nuggets will be without Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who sprained his ankle Thursday against New Jersey. With Abdul-Rauf leaving that game in the first quarter and missing Friday's game at Boston, the Nuggets have lost two straight and are 2 1/2 games behind the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. C Dikembe Mutombo ranks first in the league in blocks (4.57) and fifth in rebounding 11.4. Rookie F Antonio McDyess (12.9 ppg) has led Denver in scoring in four of the past five games.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

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