76ers finish off Bullets, placid King


PHILADELPHIA -- These are the ones that drive Wes Unseld crazy.

It's one thing to put an inferior team on the court and get blown away by a championship caliber team. It's completely another to go into an opponent's building and play solid basketball for 42 minutes only to give the game away in the final six with sloppy play and poor decisions.

Last night at the Spectrum, the Washington Bullets let one slip out of their hands in a 108-100 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"They outworked us down the stretch," said Unseld, after his team squandered leads of nine and 13 after the third quarter. "We didn't finish well and we didn't respond at all to their traps."

Inevitably, it was the defensive pressure that the Sixers displayed in the final minutes and the charged-up play of Charles Barkley that handed the Bullets their third consecutive defeat.

The Bullets' makeshift guard corps of A.J. English, Byron Irvin, Ledell Eackles and newcomer Clinton Smith was very good at times, showing flashes of fine play at both ends of the court. But it wasn't good enough to withstand the pesky defense of Ron Anderson, Rickey Green and Barkley.

"We set the trap up to take some of the pressure off of Manute [Bol] underneath," said guard Hersey Hawkins, who had a career-high and game-high 39 points. "A lot of times toward the end of the game their forwards weren't even touching the ball. It helps when your outside defense can take away their inside game."

It was certainly a patchwork team with several banged-up players in the lineup and others like Darrell Walker and Haywoode Workman in street clothes. Unseld wasn't fuming after the loss, but indicated he wasn't satisfied with another hard-fought loss.

"We're not very good at the two-guard right now and it's hurting us," Unseld said. "I don't think we're going to be very good until we get Darrell Walker back in the lineup."

Walker, who has missed the last week with strained ligaments in his right knee, is not expected to return until the end of the month.

Barkley, a noted fourth-quarter player, was again stellar down the stretch, scoring 14 of his 25 points and getting six of his 14 rebounds in the final 12 minutes.

"You look around the league at the great players -- Magic [Johnson], Michael [Jordan], [David] Robinson -- they all do their best work in the final minutes," Barkley said. "You can ask anyone in this room. I always say, 'Keep the score close until the last five minutes and then get me the ball.' "

Forward Bernard King, who left Sunday's game against Boston due to an allergic reaction to a vitamin supplement that caused dizziness and shortness of breath, was conspicuously quiet during the entire game, scoring just 12 points.

King didn't comment after the game, but several of the Sixers said he looked tentative.

"I think Bernard coasted a little bit," said forward Rick Mahorn. "He's getting ready for the All-Star Game and he probably didn't want to get hurt."

Barkley said he knew about Sunday's incident and thought King didn't give it 100 percent.

"I don't think he wanted to go at full speed after what happened Sunday," Barkley said. "That was pretty scary."

Unseld excused King's mediocre play last night.

"It wasn't one of Bernard's finer efforts but I don't know if it was anything from Sunday," Unseld said.

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