Triple double a birthday treat for Webber, Bullets Warriors fall, 118-108

fans seeking free food boo when team misses 120-point mark

March 02, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- On a night when Chris Webber celebrated his 24th birthday with a triple double against his former team, when Gheorghe Muresan was told he'd be starring in a major movie this summer, and the team won a rare game -- the Washington Bullets were soundly booed as they walked off the court.

Go figure.

The booing had nothing to do with the team's performance, although the Bullets nearly blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter. It had to do with hungry fans, who, promised a free burger if the Bullets scored 120 points, watched in dismay as Rod Strickland dribbled away the final seconds of last night's 118-108 win over the Golden State Warriors before a sellout crowd at the USAir Arena.

It was the second win in the past three games for the Bullets (26-31), who are trying to keep alive their faint playoff hopes. That the Bullets caught a Golden State team (21-35) that was playing the last game on a six-game trip over nine days may have had something to do with the outcome.

But when you struggle as the Bullets have, you take the victory any way you can.

"I'm happy with the way we played," Webber said. "It's good that we got a win."

For Webber, it appears it's good any time he takes the court

against Golden State. Webber finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh career triple double. Webber has posted triple doubles in his past three games against the Warriors; he had 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against the Warriors on Dec. 15.

"Maybe it's just a coincidence, I couldn't tell you," Webber said of his feat. "I don't have any extra motivation to play well against this team, because two of those guys [Chris Mullin and Latrell Sprewell] were very instrumental in my career.

"As far as giving it to the other guys, it's not like that," Webber added. "It's just a thing where I want to go out and play well. I can't say it's something personal."

Webber entered the final quarter two rebounds and two assists shy of a triple double. He got his 10th assist with 1: 04 left after he grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, dribbled the length of the court and fed Tracy Murray for a dunk. It was a necessary basket for the Bullets, who saw a 22-point lead shrink to single digits in the final quarter.

"We want him to do that again," Bullets coach Bernie Bickerstaff said of Webber. "That's what we talk about. Consistency in performance is that you try to maintain a certain intensity regardless of who you play. And he'll get there."

It was a big night not only for Webber, but also for Muresan. Actor Billy Crystal showed up at the game to tell Muresan that they will begin shooting a movie in July called "My Giant." Filming will be in Italy.

"It's a very special part," said Crystal, who watched the game from courtside seats near the Washington bench. "I think he will be astounding."

Said Muresan of the movie: "Right now, I still play basketball. I don't want to concentrate a lot now for the movie."

With all the special things that happened for the Bullets last night, they were still booed at the end of a rare win. Strickland grabbed a rebound in the final seconds, unaware of the fans cheering wildly for him to push the ball up court. Instead he dribbled the clock away, and the Bullets were booed loudly as they headed toward the locker room.

"I was wondering why they were booing -- I swear," Strickland said. "I was like, 'I know they're tough, but ' "

It was only when a still stunned Strickland was sitting in front of his locker that he was told of the promotion.

"Someone said 120 points, and I wasn't thinking about that," Strickland said. "I had no clue."

The good news: The Bullets gave the fans a burger, anyway.

NOTES: Ben Wallace (tendinitis, left knee) was activated after the game, and Lorenzo Williams (left knee) was placed on the injured list. Harvey Grant played after missing three straight games with a sprained right wrist. Washington shot 71.1 percent from the floor in the first half.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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