Bullets pick up game on Cavaliers Webber's 24 points pace 113-86 rout of Raptors

March 29, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- In the joyous locker room after the Washington Bullets crushed the Toronto Raptors last night, Chris Webber admitted that he's developing the same type of feeling on the court he did in college when he played with one of the top programs in the nation.

"It's the first time I felt like I was at Michigan. It felt good," Webber said. "It's an attitude. I'm very tunnel vision right now, very single-minded. I don't have time for family, friends, anybody. I'm just trying to get ready for the playoffs; that's it."

The Bullets took another step toward that goal with the 113-86 win over the Raptors. The Bullets picked up a game on the Cleveland Cavaliers, moving within one game of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Against a team that has had the upper hand on the Bullets since entering the league last season (the Raptors had won four of the six previous games), this game was over in the first quarter, when Washington led by as many as 24 points.

It was Webber who set the tone early, with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the opening period. That was pretty much what the Toronto team totaled in the first quarter: 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

"I never scored that many points in a quarter," said Webber, who hit all seven of his shots -- including both three-pointers -- in the opening quarter. "Rod [Strickland] was getting us the ball early."

Webber ended the game with 24 points (nine of 10 from the field), 10 rebounds and five assists.

Strickland scored 16 points and had nine assists in 24 minutes, although he was visibly unhappy when he was replaced midway through the third quarter.

The Bullets have won seven of their past eight games and look to match their season-best winning streak of four games with a win over Dallas tonight at the Baltimore Arena. With their offense seemingly in high gear, the Bullets have scored more than 100 points in three straight games and are 25-9 when scoring that many.

Basketball suddenly seems like fun for the Bullets, who are fast-breaking more than at any time this season. The ball movement to the open man has been impressive, resulting in a lot of easy shots and layups.

"The unselfishness of the team was the part that I really appreciated," said coach Bernie Bickerstafff. "The team defense was also good, we got some deflections and we got some points off of turnovers. It was just a good team effort."

Washington was probably fortunate to catch the Raptors a night after they were beaten by the Chicago Bulls in Toronto. Damon Stoudamire, last season's rookie of the year, scored 14 points and had three assists. Toronto's leading scorer was Reggie Slater, with 16 points off the bench.

"Once they took off, there was no turning back," said Toronto forward Carlos Rogers. "They are a team that is trying to make the playoffs, and there is a difference. We don't have anything to play for, but we have enough pride in ourselves to make it our playoff game any time we play a team that we can knock out of the playoffs."

Playoff game? At no point was last night's game competitive. Howard, who played a team-high 35 minutes, welcomed the rest, when he did some scoreboard watching of the eighth-place Cavaliers (who lost to Miami) and 10th-place Indiana Pacers (who beat Charlotte).

"We didn't have anything else to do but look at the scoreboard," Juwan Howard said.

NOTE: Lorenzo Williams was not with the team yesterday. The forward was in Dallas to get his injured knee checked out.

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Dallas Mavericks

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: HTS/ WWRC (980 AM)

Outlook: In their last game at the Baltimore Arena, the Bullets can get to within a half-game of eighth-place Cleveland with a win. Dallas hasn't played since Wednesday's loss to the Indiana Pacers -- the team's fifth straight loss. The Bullets are looking to sweep the season series against the Mavericks. The Bullets won at Dallas, 86-85, on March 18.

Tickets: Many available.

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