Cavaliers edge Bullets in OT thriller, 98-96

November 03, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- Two games into the NBA season, and it appears the Washington Bullets may need to hire a cardiologist as their team doctor.

For the second night in a row the Bullets found themselves involved in a heart-stopping finish, this time coming up on the wrong end in a 98-96 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers before a sellout crowd of 17,856 at USAir Arena.

It was a game the Bullets had many chances to win. But the end would come with just over a second left in overtime when, with the game tied, Cleveland guard Terrell Brandon (31 points) drew a foul on Chris Webber. Brandon then hit two free throws for a 98-96 lead that would hold up. Jaren Jackson's three-point attempt at the buzzer was well short.

Washington seemed to have lost the game in regulation, trailing by three points in the final seconds, but reserve guard Chris Whitney hit a three-pointer with just over four seconds left to send the game into overtime.

In the overtime Washington again trailed by three in the final seconds when Rod Strickland converted a three-point play with eight seconds left to tie the game at 96.

But the Cavaliers got the ball to Brandon on their next possession. After he shook free from Strickland, Webber came over to help. Brandon faked, Webber made contact and the foul was called that led to the Cleveland win.

The Bullets had no one to blame but themselves in the loss, hitting just 21 of 39 free throws for the game. Strickland made just five of 13 free throws, and had four big misses in the final quarter.

Juwan Howard had 21 points to lead the Bullets, with Webber adding 15.

Washington's lead was 73-66 going into the fourth quarter, and the reason why it wasn't bigger was because the team at the end of the third quarter had not found a way to stop Cleveland center Vitaly Potapenko.

Over the final 3: 19 of the third Potapenko scored 14 straight points for the Cavaliers, and made it 18 straight in the fourth period. In all the Cavaliers began the final quarter with a 10-4 run, tying the game at 76 after a layup by Tyrone Hill with 7: 05 left.

With the score tied at 80, Strickland twice had opportunities to give the Bullets the lead. Instead Strickland, who made only 65.2 percent of his free throws last year, missed four straight from the line.

After the second pair of misses, which led to some scattered boos, Brandon hit a baseline jumper to give the Cavaliers an 82-80 lead. Cleveland would increase the lead to 86-82 with 1: 33 left after Tyrone Hill scored on a baseline dunk.

On a night of horrible free throw shooting, Howard hit two with 1: 15 drawing Washington to within 86-84. After forcing a Cleveland turnover, the Bullets had a chance to tie the game. But Strickland missed on a short attempt in the lane with just under a minute left.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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