Spirit loses 10th game, 23-19 Offense fizzles in 2nd half, squandering 16-10 lead

December 07, 1997|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

A Spirit offense that proved an irresistible force for a half last night suddenly saw its efforts prove all but pointless and tumbled to its 10th loss, with Milwaukee prevailing, 23-19.

Now we know why the visitors' nickname is the Wave. That's what Milwaukee resembled as it recovered from a 16-10 deficit late in the second period and scored 13 straight points to boost its record to 9-1.

Led by Bo Vuckovic, who had nine points in the first 25 minutes on two goals, two shootout tallies and three assists, the Spirit had a nine-point run to assume the 16-10 lead.

From that point, however, the home team was scoreless until Renato Sampaio's three-point goal with just over a minute remaining. The scoreless stretch was 33 minutes, 29 seconds.

"That's the nature of this game. If you work hard and stay positive, you're never out of it," said Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer.

"All we wanted to do starting the second half is try to get it to 16-16 after three quarters. Then we were hoping with their record and the tough time they've been having, self-doubt might begin to set in."

The team followed the coach's instructions to a T, scoring the only four points in the quarter, then just kept going.

"Taking nothing from them because they're a talented team, we had a bad first half, defensively," said Tozer. "While it was important for the offense to stay patient and take its time getting back in the game, I took the defensive guys aside and said, 'Let's not only stop making mistakes, but let's start making up for the mistakes being made in front of us.'

"I've been in situations like 2-9 over the last 20 years and I know when things are going that way, a 'gotta-win' feeling sets in. Maybe that's what happened tonight."

Big guns for the Wave, which was winning its fifth straight game and running its road record to 5-1, were Michael Richardson (hat trick), Michael King (two goals), Obi Moneme and Steve Morris (three points apiece) and Todd Dusosky (two goals and an assist).

Lance Johnson and Sampaio checked in with five-point games behind Vuckovic's four goals and three assists for nine points.

Vuckovic scored his 19th goal in the first 47 seconds and had a hat trick inside the first six minutes. Still, the home team led just 5-4 after 15 minutes. Things were just warming up.

The Wave, which trailed 5-0, scored six straight points and, after Baltimore scored to lead again, scored four more for a 10-7 advantage.

Pub Date: 12/07/97

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