Price can't help Bullets keep pace with Indiana Rookie's 1st start is downer, 114-95


INDIANAPOLIS -- Brent Price will remember his first NBA start, though he might prefer not to.

The Washington Bullets rookie -- pressed into service while Michael Adams returned home to be with his wife, who is expecting -- played a season-high 31 minutes last night at Market Square Arena, scoring eight points and dishing off a season-high seven assists.

There were few other highlights for the Bullets, who were blasted, 114-95, by the Indiana Pacers and sent deeper into the Eastern Conference basement at 20-49.

"That's not what you hope for in your first start," said Price. "My job was to go in and try to run the team. We couldn't get anybody going on the offensive end to score points."

Rookie Tom Gugliotta led Washington with 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Another rookie, Don MacLean, added 17 points. But all those came in the fourth quarter, long after Indiana had secured its 10th straight home victory.

Washington's leading scorer, Harvey Grant, struggled, scoring six points on 2-for-12 shooting.

The Bullets had trouble matching up with Indiana's front line of Rik Smits (7 feet 4), Dale Davis (6-11), Detlef Schrempf (6-10) and reserve Kenny Williams (6-9). The Pacers (34-35), who tied the Orlando Magic for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, out-rebounded Washington, 51-31.

"The rebounding isn't a surprise, but they shouldn't out-rebound us that bad," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "We have really only one rebounder, and other people can rebound if they play harder."

In the third period, a 15-2 rebound edge helped the Pacers widen a 49-47 halftime lead to 83-62.

"We didn't have the size to get at

them," said Gugliotta. "Their height combined with their athleticism concerned us before the game. If we fell behind early, we were concerned we wouldn't be able to get back into it."

The Pacers shot 68 percent in the quarter, Washington 30 percent.

Consecutive three-point plays by the Pacers -- a layup and free throw by Schrempf and a three-pointer by Reggie Miller -- put Indiana ahead 61-51 with 8:28 left. Washington closed to 63-56 before the Pacers scored 20 points to the Bullets' six in the final six minutes of the quarter.

Indiana extended its lead to 101-71 on Sam Mitchell's basket with 6:31 remaining in the game.

Rik Smits scored 18 points and grabbed 15 points for the Pacers. Miller and Williams added 16 points each, and every Pacer scored.

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