Bullets again off-key vs. Jazz Webber adds injury to insult of latest rout, 111-89 drubbing in Utah

February 04, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SALT LAKE CITY -- As Washington Bullets forward Tracy Murray sat on the team's bench about an hour before game time, he reflected on the 30-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the previous night.

"It was the worst loss I have ever been involved in," said Murray, a four-year veteran who suffered the embarrassment in his hometown. "It was bad."

And it got worse. Much worse. At one point last night against Utah, the Bullets trailed by 33 points -- in the first half. Later they were down 38. And by the final horn the Bullets were embarrassed for the second night in a row, 111-89, this time by the Jazz before a sellout crowd of 19,911 at the Delta Center.

Karl Malone led the Jazz with 24 points in 27 minutes and Gheorghe Muresan had 18 points for Washington, which has lost nine of its last 12 games.

If the sixth straight road loss weren't bad enough, the Bullets also got more bad news when forward Chris Webber, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, turned his left ankle early in the second quarter.

Webber came back to play the final 3: 11 of the quarter, but he did not play in the second half. It's not known whether Webber will play tomorrow night when the Bullets finish their four-game trip against Denver.

It was the third straight loss for the Bullets (22-24), who now must beat the Nuggets to avoid a four-game sweep of the trip.

"We have to take each game with a harder fight," said forward Juwan Howard, who hit only five of 14 shots. "We can't approach each game like we did the last two nights. This team, we have to find some way to correct some things within the family. We have to find out what the problem is."

Guard Rod Strickland was more succinct. "All I know is we stunk it up -- period. Defensively we were terrible," he said. "If we can't get it done defensively, then we're in trouble. We were just bad."

Just as in Sunday's 129-99 loss to the Lakers, this was a game in which the Bullets never led. Washington shot just 32.6 percent in the first half, after which it trailed 62-32. The 32 points was the second-worst half of the season (the Bullets scored 30 in a loss to Detroit on Nov. 12).

Less than four minutes into last night's game, the Bullets already were facing a double-digit deficit after former Bullet Greg Foster scored on a layup to put Utah up 14-4 with 8: 29 left.

Several times the Bullets managed to draw within eight, the last time coming after Howard scored on a short banker with 3: 51 left.

But the Bullets, for the rest of the quarter and for the first 2: 58 of the second quarter, missed 12 straight shots. They finally ended a drought of 6: 48 when Murray scored on a layup with 9: 02 left in the half.

During that drought, Webber, while playing defense, turned his left ankle. Webber was on the ground in obvious pain for several minutes, before being helped off.

It didn't appear that he would return, but just as a note was passed along press row describing Webber's return as questionable, he checked back into the game with 3: 11 left in the half and the Bullets down 50-24.

Webber would go on to score two of his three field goals over the final minutes, but limped noticeably. Utah had its biggest lead of the half, 60-27, after Malone made two free throws with a minute left. And at the half the Jazz, behind 14 points from Malone and 11 points from John Stockton, had a 62-32 lead.

"There are times where you go through stretches like this," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam, who said he was "double discouraged" by the past two nights. "We went a half without being able to make a shot. The Lakers ran us out with their fast break. Here, they did their damage with Malone on the inside."

Harvey Grant started the second half in place of Webber, and the drought continued as Utah ran its precision offense to near perfection. After Antoine Carr ran the lane during a Utah fast break and scored on a thunderous dunk with 3: 00 left, the Jazz had a 36-point lead.

Lynam immediately called time, and a frustrated Strickland kicked the front of the scorers table and nearly threw his mouthpiece into the stands.

NOTES: Injured guard Tim Legler (sore hamstring) will begin running drills over the next two days and a decision will be made by the end of the week whether he will defend his three-point shootout title on Saturday during All-Star Weekend. Utah starting center Greg Ostertag missed most of the game -- his wife had a baby daughter, Bailey Nicole, at 6: 05 p.m. Ostertag arrived at the arena in the second half. He played 11 minutes in the second half, scoring seven points, grabbing two rebounds and blocking two shots.

Losing ground

Since going a season-high four games over .500 with a win at Cleveland on Jan. 11, the Bullets have slumped, losing nine of 12:

Date .. ..Opponent .. .. .. ..Result

1-13 .. ..at Miami .. .. ...L, 98-95

1-14 .. ..at Chicago .. ....L, 108-107

1-17 .. ..Miami .. .. . ....L, 103-92

1-18 .. ..at Boston .. .. ..W, 112-106

1-20 .. ..at New York .. ...L, 95-79

1-21 .. ..at Orlando .. .. .L, 93-88

1-24 .. ..at Atlanta .. .. .L, 117-105*

1-25 .. ..Sacramento .. .. .W, 113-105

1-28 .. ..Orlando .. .. .. .W, 102-82

1-31 .. ..at Seattle .. .. .L, 97-95

2-2 .. ...at L.A. Lakers ...L, 129-99

2-3 .. ...at Utah .. .. .. .L, 111-89

*-Overtime

Pub Date: 2/04/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.