Bullets fall short again, lose, 93-91 Unseld tests youth late against Wolves


MOLINE, Ill. -- For Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld, it was again an opportunity to see how his free agents and younger players respond under pressure. For Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sidney Lowe, it was an opportunity to win.

While Lowe went with his starters in last night's preseason game, Unseld was content to play his younger players. In the end, two points separated the teams, a jumper by Minnesota guard Doug West with 1.6 seconds left that gave the Timberwolves a 93-91 win before a crowd of 9,152 at The Mark.

"I'm just trying to give everybody as good a look as I possibly can," Unseld said. "I just want to know what these guys can do."

Thus, Unseld was not tempted to thrust his veterans back into action after Minnesota reinserted Christian Laettner, Chuck Person and Michael Williams after a 13-point lead began to evaporate in the final quarter.

Unseld stuck with Calbert Cheaney, Brent Price, Mitchell Butler, Tito Horford and Tom Gugliotta on the floor in the final minutes after free-agent Kenny Walker fouled out with 3:02 left and the Bullets down, 88-86.

The Bullets, who dropped to 0-3, had their chance to win. With 25.8 seconds left and the scored tied at 91, the Bullets could have run down the clock and go for a final shot that would have left Minnesota with six seconds to set up its offense. But Price saw a wide-open Gugliotta underneath the basket, and the second-year forward missed with 13.2 seconds remaining.

That gave Minnesota more than enough time to get a good shot. Laettner, who was double-teamed in the post, passed off to West who hit the running jumper with 1.6 seconds left. Gugliotta's potential game-winning shot from half-court fell short at the buzzer.

"We said we wanted a good shot, so I didn't tell [Price] to wait until the last second," Unseld said. "Tom was wide open. You've got to give him that pass for that shot."

The Bullets were without Rex Chapman, who bruised his right knee in Wednesday's loss to the Chicago Bulls in Louisville, Ky. Chapman, who is traveling with the team, did not make the bus ride from Chicago to Moline.

With Chapman out, Cheaney -- who started at small forward in Wednesday's game -- started at shooting guard with Walker moving to the three spot. Cheaney was impressive, scoring a team-high 20 points (eight of 17 from the field) in 34 minutes.

"I'm definitely starting to feel better," said Cheaney, out most of camp with sore hamstrings. "We were trying to get a win here. We were in there against some seasoned players and we came up short again."

Walker was also impressive, scoring 13 points, grabbing six points and blocking four shots in 35 minutes. Michael Adams scored 14 points in 18 minutes and Gugliotta had 10.

Person scored 19 points for Minnesota, whose entire starting unit scored in double figures and played over 29 minutes. Laettner also had 16 rebounds to go with his 10 points.

With the Bullets trailing 78-65 after three quarters, Cheaney scored seven during a 10-2 run -- the final two on a jumper from the right corner that pulled the Bullets to 80-77.

After Minnesota center Luc Longley hit a short jumper to give the Timberwolves an 86-79 lead, the Bullets went on a 12-5 run that ended with Horford hitting one of two free throws with 42 seconds left to tie the game at 91.

Minnesota had a 43-39 lead at the half and led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter. Mike Brown converted a rebound into a dunk with 4.2 seconds left in the period, Minnesota had a 78-65 lead going into the final 12 minutes.

The Bullets have a day off today, before traveling to Milwaukee tomorrow to take on the Bucks.

NOTES: Billed as the NBA Classic, the game was the first ever at The Mark. The arena is home of the Quad City Thunder, a team with the Continental Basketball Association. . .The Timberwolves are still without Isaiah Rider, the former UNLV star who was the fifth pick overall in the NBA draft. Rider, who was coveted by the Bullets, has yet to sign with Minnesota. . . Thomas Jordan, a former standout at Lake Clifton High School, is a free-agent in the Timberwolves camp. Jordan averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in 30 games in Spain last year, then signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers where he averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games. The 6-foot-10 forward did not play last night.

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