Road-weak Bulls take advantage of Wizards

League's worst team turns 23 turnovers into 41 points

Pro Basketball

April 12, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Even into the last week of an already dreary season, the Washington Wizards keep coming up with new and inventive ways to lose.

Last night's 113-109 loss to the Chicago Bulls might have been the most unusual. In it, the Wizards shot a season-high 63 percent from the field, had all five starters score in double figures, and out-rebounded the hapless Bulls, 33-31.

But the Wizards (18-60) committed 23 turnovers, which were turned into 41 points by the Bulls - the league's worst team - to halt a 25-game road losing streak at MCI Center.

"We were very careless with the ball in the first half," said Washington coach Leonard Hamilton. "There were some careless ball-handling miscues that led to an awful lot of easy baskets. Our miscues in handling the ball created the biggest problems for us."

The Wizards, who now must win one of their final four games (against Orlando, Cleveland, Atlanta and Toronto) to avoid the fewest wins in franchise history, played spotty defense against the Bulls, who were averaging the fewest points in the league. Chicago - 3-36 away from home all season - shot 54 percent from the floor and scored its most points in a month.

"If you look at their record, and all the rookies they have and young players, you feel like there's not a good excuse that you can come up with for losing a game like this, especially at home," said Washington forward Loy Vaught. "We've been losing our fair share of games lately. This was a real opportunity to get a win and we didn't take advantage."

Vaught, who has played sparingly, made the most of his time last night, with eight points, all in the fourth quarter, as Washington made up a 10-point deficit and took a 109-108 lead on Vaught's 15-foot baseline jumper from the right side with 35.2 seconds to go.

It was the Wizards' first lead since the first quarter. But, it was short-lived after Marcus Fizer, who had 21 points off the bench for Chicago (13-65), tipped in Elton Brand's miss with 20.5 seconds remaining as Washington's Jahidi White moved over to help defend Brand (team-high 26 points).

"The ball kind of bounced twice on the rim," White said. "I jumped the first time. While I went to help on Elton, Fizer kind of moved in, boxed me out and got the rebound and put it back in. He was just at the right place at the right time."

On the next play, Washington's Richard Hamilton drove into the lane and was covered, but found Vaught on the left wing at nearly the same spot he had hit the previous jumper. This time the Bulls did a better job defending, as Vaught's shot rolled off the rim.

"It was a real comfortable shot, the first one I hit," said Vaught. "The second shot, they kind of sniffed out the play really quickly and Ron Artest was able to rotate over really quickly. He didn't try to block my shot. He went for my eyes to affect my vision. I didn't see how it missed."

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