LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With Calbert Cheaney and Gheorghe Muresan in uniform for the first time, the Washington Bullets got an opportunity to take a look at their top two draft picks in a competitive situation against the Chicago Bulls.
The review on the two were, for the most part, favorable.
Also favorable was how the Bullets were able to fight back from a 16-point third-quarter deficit, to send the game into overtime.
But Chicago, without Michael Jordan to lean on, got free throws from Pete Myers and Al Hamilton and were able to salvage a 101-98 win.
Such is the lot of preseason games, where free agents and rookies are left to fight for jobs at the end of tightly contested games. When the final gun sounded neither team had a player on the floor who was a regular on their respective club last year.
With his team a shell of its former self (Scottie Pippen and Bill Cartwright did not play) Chicago coach Phil Jackson had been quoted as saying that his team would not win a preseason game.
But the Bulls, who had won 17 straight preseason games prior to losing their first two to Seattle last week, were able to right themselves against the Bullets.
Washington, 0-2 in preseason, will try once again tonight in Moline, Ill., where the Bullets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Bullets dug themselves a hole in the first half, committing 16 turnovers and shooting just 38.9 percent.
Washington trailed 25-23 at the end of the first quarter and went up 28-27 early in the second quarter. But Washington was limited to just four field goals over the final 10 minutes of the quarter and when it was over Chicago had a 49-36 lead.
Cheaney, who played in the neighboring state of Indiana, started the game and was received warmly by the crowd.
His first shot was a short jumper from the right side -- all net.
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.
Muresan, who entered the game for the first time with 3:03 left in the first quarter, took awhile to catch on to the NBA game.
The first time he touched the ball he was stripped by Chicago center Stacey King. The 7-foot-7 center then committed two fouls, goaltended a King shot and was whistled for offensive goaltending when he touched a ball in the cylinder on a shot by teammate Doug Overton.
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 to a mild ovation after fouling out with 6:56 left, Muresan had eight points (including two free-throws and one follow dunk) and six rebounds.
As for the Bullets, they fell behind by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but were able to close to within 79-74 after Brent Price hit a three-pointer with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Later, with Jackson playing a team that included Bill Wennington, Steve Kerr, Jerome Lane and rookies Corey Blount and Toni Kukoc, the Bullets were able to tie the game at 91-91 following a baseline jumper by Calbert Cheaney.
After Chicago took a one-point lead following a Blount free throw, Mitchell Butler scored on back-to-back lay-ups that put Washington up 95-92 to cap a 15-1 run.
But Armstrong, inserted into the game after Kukoc fouled out, hit two free throws and then followed with a three-pointer that put Chicago up, 97-95, with 53.1 seconds left.