LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- For the 15,075 fans who came to Freedom Hall last night, the attraction was Michael Jordan -- most of the tickets were sold before his retirement. But as the crowd noise picked up during the closing minutes of overtime, for a brief moment it seemed it didn't matter who was on the floor for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Bullets.
What the fans appreciated was how hard the Bullets -- who played draft picks Calbert Cheaney and Gheorghe Muresan for the first time -- fought back from a 16-point third- quarter deficit with a 17-6 run at the end of the game that forced overtime. But in the end, a couple of guys named Al Hamilton and Pete Myers were parading around in Chicago uniforms and hitting free throws that gave the Bulls a 101-98 win.
When the horn sounded, neither team had on the floor a player who was a regular last season. The final minutes matched a group of free agents, rookies and young players.
"I think it was fun," said Washington coach Wes Unseld, whose team scored just one point in the overtime and failed on several opportunities to tie the game. "It was interesting to watch them play. I think they did a good job and a lot of the comeback was off some good things."
Rookie free-agent Mitchell Butler, who continued to impress with a team-high 15 points, sparked the comeback with 11 points during a 16-6 run over the final 5:23 of regulation. His two free throws with 18 seconds left tied the game at 97, helping the Bullets get to overtime.
But in the extra five-minute session, the Bullets managed just one free throw by Tito Horford. With the Bulls getting those free throws by Hamilton and Myers, they were able to take their first preseason game after two opening defeats.
Afterward Unseld, after the team's second preseason loss, spoke about the positives he saw.
"We scored out of things we wanted to do," said Unseld, who isolated Butler in the post toward the end of the game. "Butler drove well, and he was effective."
With Cheaney and the 7-foot-7 Muresan in uniform for the first time, the Washington Bullets got an opportunity to take a look at their top two draft picks under game conditions. The review on the two was, for the most part, favorable.
Cheaney scored 12 points in 38 minutes, and hit a key jumper during Washington's late rally. And Muresan scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in 15 minutes of play before fouling out.
He scored all eight of his points in the first quarter, and overall played about as well as expected of a player who has missed most of training camp with injuries.
"I don't think his conditioning is too good," Unseld said of Cheaney. "When your shots are falling short, that means you don't have good legs."
That was the way Muresan felt. He entered the game for the first time with 3:03 left in the first quarter. The first time he touched the ball he was stripped by Chicago center Stacey King.
But he did get in the books, swishing in a running hook (maybe a half-running hook's a better description) with 10:29 left in the second quarter. By the time he left the court after fouling out with 6:56 left, Muresan had eight points (including two free throws and one follow dunk) and six rebounds.
"I hope this is going to be my worst game in the NBA," Muresan said . "It could have been easier. I was a bit overwhelmed."
NOTES: Tom Gugliotta, who scored 14 for the Bullets, limped off the court after turning an ankle. . . . B. J. Armstrong scored 19 points to lead the Bulls, who played without the injured Bill Cartwright (back) and Scottie Pippen (ankle, wrist).