Webber, Bullets rebound, top Spurs Forward's 21 boards, 22 points propel team to 96-86 victory

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

LANDOVER -- As Chris Webber was lying down resting in the hours before last night's game, he didn't even bother to answer the phone. But before he left for USAir Arena, he listened to his messages and there was one from his father, Mayce, that really hit home.

"He said, 'I don't want to criticize your game' -- and he has never told me anything about my game before, not one time in my whole life," Webber said. "By him watching our first two games, he said it seemed different, that I needed to turn up effort, turn up the play."

So what did Webber do last night against the San Antonio Spurs? Of course, he followed his father's advice and turned up the effort to the tune of a career-high 21 rebounds -- eight on the offensive end -- and added 22 points as the Bullets defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 96-86, before a crowd of 17,110.

Juwan Howard also had 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Howard/Webber combination produced a double-double night. The two were able to take advantage of a San Antonio team that is starting the season without the services of All-Star center David Robinson (lower back).

Webber's previous career-high in rebounds came on Nov. 26, 1994, against the Los Angeles Lakers, when he grabbed 20. Through the first two games of this season, Webber had 10 rebounds, including his poor one-rebound effort on opening night against Orlando that may have been one of the reasons his father placed the call yesterday that left Webber somewhat stunned.

"When I first heard it, my reaction was one of pride. I said, 'C'mon, I'm giving everything. I haven't played in a while,' " said Webber, who played in just 15 games last season. "Then I thought, 'Shut up, he's right.' When I went out, I knew I was going to give everything. I don't want to exaggerate his advice. But he was definitely on my mind on the way to the game."

Webber started the game strong, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the first quarter when the Bullets led by as many as seven. By halftime, Webber already had a double double -- 12 points and 10 rebounds -- but he hit only one of five shots in the second quarter, when the Bullets' offense struggled. Washington managed just seven field goals in the second quarter and wound up trailing, 47-43, at the half.

"My shot, I have to fix it," said Webber of his struggles from the field. "I'm not shooting extremely well [eight of 19 from the field in last night's game], so I have to rebound."

The Bullets rebounded from their horrible second quarter behind their defense, which limited the Spurs to just 39 second-half points. By the end of the third quarter, the Bullets had a 70-67 lead. And when reserves Jaren Jackson, Chris Whitney and Tracy Murray started the fourth quarter by connecting on four straight three-pointers -- two by Murray -- the Bullets were on the way to their first home victory.

"It didn't feel like a career night," Webber said. "It felt like the effort was there. I felt like all the things I thought about before the game happened."

And that made coach Jim Lynam happy, having Webber and Howard dominate the boards when centers Gheorghe Muresan (hip flexor) and Lorenzo White (sore knee) are out.

"Chris was flat out sensational," Lynam said. "I don't think I've ever seen him hit the boards that hard."

Which was a lot easier without Robinson in the lineup.

"I wanted to do as much as possible. I want to fill out my whole game," Webber said. "If David was there, maybe I wouldn't have gotten so many. But regardless, the effort was there to get the boards."

And it was an effort that Webber said his father would appreciate. If Mayce Webber wasn't watching on the satellite dish last night, son Chris said he would call with a late-night thank you.

And what would he say?

"I'm going to tell him, 'I got your message.' And I won't even tell him what happened, if he didn't see it. I'll make him find out on his own."

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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