Bullets' Muresan is running at practice Progress pleases Lynam

center could play Nov. 12

November 05, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

BOWIE -- As he stood in the corridor leading to the Washington Bullets' practice gym, Gheorghe Muresan was giving an assessment of his shooting skills.

"My shot, it's about 75 percent," Muresan said. After a brief pause, he corrected himself. "Maybe 90 percent."

Those are words that Bullets coach Jim Lynam was happy to hear. Lynam also was happy to see Muresan -- who is recovering from a hip flexor injury -- running up and down the floor with his teammates during practice.

"It's the first he's gone out there with a little contact, and he even ran a little bit of full court," Lynam said. "Given what he did, it was very encouraging."

Lynam finds himself looking more and more closely at the Nov. 12 game at home against the Detroit Pistons, when Muresan will be eligible to come off the injured list (players on the list are required to miss five games).

The Bullets, in splitting their first two games, have been getting more than half their points in the paint. A lot of those, however, have been easy buckets -- the result of penetration moves, not a low-post offense. When Juwan Howard attempts to post up, he often has to throw the ball out quickly because of an immediate double team. When Chris Webber is in the post, teams are doubling him as soon as he dribbles.

"When you know you're going to get doubled, you'd like to get the ball deeper so we can get some higher percentage shots," Lynam said.

And that's exactly where Muresan fits in. No one in the league hit a better percentage of shots last year than Muresan's .584. Not only is he a good shooter, but he's also a good post passer who helps create scoring opportunities for his teammates.

Muresan won the league's Most Improved Player award last season, but his season ended prematurely because of strained ligaments in his left knee. Although Muresan was able to avoid surgery, he hurt his hip about a month before training camp started.

"When I first hurt it, I don't know how," Muresan said. "I woke up in the morning and when I got out of bed there was a big pain. I don't know how it happened, maybe when I was working out the day before."

So Muresan wound up missing the entire training camp, often getting treatment for his right hip as the team practiced. With Muresan and backup center Lorenzo Williams out of the lineup, Webber (who missed yesterday's practice with the flu, two days after getting a flu shot) has played most of the minutes at center -- minutes Muresan wishes he had.

"I was very mad [watching Saturday's home opener from the bench] because I don't play," Muresan said. "I want to play. I want to come back slow, I don't want to come back too quickly."

Despite Muresan's absence, the Bullets are getting a few breaks early in the schedule.

Neither Cleveland nor Orlando (their first two opponents) had dominant centers, and tomorrow the Bullets will face a San Antonio Spurs team without David Robinson (sore back).

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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