Bullets collapse down stretch


BOSTON -- After crawling out of a 20-point first-quarter hole to take the lead in the third quarter, the Washington Bullets did not have enough left to finish the job, falling to the Boston Celtics, 120-113, at the Boston Garden last night.

Behind 14 points from Rick Fox off the bench and 11 points from center Robert Parish, Boston put up 67 first-half points. They did it by seizing control of the boards on both ends, out-rebounding the Bullets 29-11. That spelled disaster for the Bullets, who fell behind early and trailed at the half, 67-52.

Washington started to turn it around in the beginning of the third quarter. A pair of Don MacLean free throws with 9:00 remaining cut the Celtics lead to 10. Fox fouled a streaking Michael Adams with five minutes to play in the third quarter and the Celtics called timeout. Adams then sank two free throws to pull the Bullets to 76-69, the closest they had been since early in the first quarter.

Chapman brought the Bullets to within five, emphatically, with a dunk. An Adams layup, a Duckworth put-in after a Bullets miss and another Adams layup after a Washington steal brought the Bullets within one.

MacLean made the comeback complete, giving the Bullets a 79-78 lead, their first advantage since 4-2. MacLean gave the Bullets a four-point lead, when he hit a jumper from the corner to make the score 90-86 at the end of the third quarter.

The Celtics regained control as the Bullets reverted to their first-quarter ways. Leading 101-94, the Bullets went more than seven minutes without a field goal as the Celtics, with five substitutes on the floor, turned their biggest deficit into a 109-101 lead with 5:15 left. Boston's reserves outscored Washington's 78-11.

Fox, who finished with a season-high 25 points, once again made a key three-pointer. This one with 5:44 remaining gave the Celtics a 107-101 lead. Dino Radja followed with two more points to cap the 15-point run.

Washington, which lost its ninth straight road game to Boston, was led by Tom Gugliotta with a season-high 30 points, MacLean with 25 and Adams with 23.

The comeback erased the memories of the dismal first half for the Bullets. The Celtics raced to an early 8-4 lead, prompting Chapman to call a 20-second timeout. Unseld called the next timeout a minute and a half later, after the Celtics had run off 10 straight points, a streak that started with a Pinckney steal and put-back on the other end and ended with the power forward taking a Sherman Douglas feed and driving the baseline for two more points.

The lead grew to 20 when Boston reserve Jimmy Oliver hit successive jumpers early in the second quarter.

* NOTES: Forward Kevin Gamble, who scored 18 points when the Celtics defeated Washington, 100-88, in the Bullets' home opener, missed last night's game with a deep bruise above his left knee.


Opponent: Seattle SuperSonics

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7:30


BTC Radio: WXZL (103.1 FM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: The Bullets, who played in Boston last night, are looking to extend their five-game home winning streak. The Sonics (11-1) are one of the deepest teams in the league, led in scoring by All-Star F Shawn Kemp (19.5 ppg). This is the last game of a six-game road trip for Seattle, which is far 4-1 on the swing (the only loss came Saturday at Cleveland). Washington has lost eight straight to Seattle, including both meetings last season. Both teams will wear replicas of uniforms from 20 years ago tonight, when the Bullets and Sonics played the first game at the Capital Centre.

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