Sonics hold off Bullets 4-game Western swing starts with 97-95 loss

February 01, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Washington Bullets forward Chris Webber was dressing after last night's game against the Seattle SuperSonics when he decided to turn the table on the media by asking a couple of questions.

"Did you watch the game?" Webber said. "Did you really watch the game?"

Webber was alluding to the game within the game -- the officials -- who he believed played a role in Washington's 97-95 loss to the Sonics before a sellout crowd of 17,072 at Key Arena.

It was Washington's 17th straight defeat in Seattle, and overall its 15th loss in 16 games against the Sonics. Seattle swept the two-game series this season.

With coach Jim Lynam watching the game on television after getting ejected in the third quarter, the Bullets came from 12 points behind early in the fourth quarter to pull within a point several times.

And after pulling within 94-92 with 21 seconds left on two free throws by Rod Strickland, Washington had a chance to tie the game after forcing Detlef Schrempf to turn the ball over.

The Bullets got the ball to Webber in the lane. But, pushed a little farther away from the basket than perhaps he liked by Shawn Kemp, Webber hit the front iron on a jump hook.

L "It was a good shot," Webber said. "I just missed the shot."

Schrempf was fouled, and made two free throws for a 96-92 lead with nine seconds left. Tracy Murray (17 points off the bench) hit a three-pointer to pull the Bullets within 96-95 with 2.2 seconds left, but that was it. Kemp (13 points) was fouled, and hit one of two free throws with less than a second left for the win.

"In a two-point game, Chris had a terrific look," Lynam said. "What can you do? He missed a shot."

Lynam watched the sequence from the locker room, having been ejected with 7: 02 left in the third. Juwan Howard thought he had been hacked on the arm while he was going up for a shot and, after getting no call, got in the face of official Jim Clark.

Howard was immediately whistled for a technical foul, and appeared to get tossed after he rushed at Clark. But it was actually Lynam who got thrown out of the game, his first ejection of the season.

"I didn't say anything. I didn't see what Coach said at all," Howard said. "All night, I felt I didn't get a break at all."

Maybe the biggest nonbreak came with 3: 38 left when Howard, with the Bullets trailing 89-88, took a feed from Strickland and drove to the basket. Howard appeared to avoid Schrempf on the way to the basket. But Schrempf fell, a charge was called on Howard and Washington's best shot at taking a lead in the fourth quarter fell by the wayside.

The Bullets can put a lot of the blame on themselves for the loss, committing 20 turnovers that led to 27 Sonics points. Webber and Howard each had five turnovers trying to contend with double-teams from a swarming Seattle defense.

"It wasn't like I was getting double-team more than usual," said Webber, who led the Bullets with 20 points and 10 rebounds. "That's just their style."

It led to a frustrating night for Howard (10 points, 2-for-8 shooting) and Strickland (13 points, 3-for-16). Still the Bullets found a way to fight back, with assistant coach Bob Staak taking over for Lynam.

"It's good we stayed in the game mentally," Howard said. "We pulled together and I think Bob Staak did a fantastic job."

Still, the Bullets wound up with another loss against a top team. The earlier loss to Seattle came in overtime. There was the one-point loss at Chicago. The bottom line is that the Bullets have yet to prove they can win against the top teams in the league.

Pub Date: 2/01/97

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