LANDOVER -- The bad news for the Washington Bullets last night was that opponents continue to have success with second-chance scoring opportunities, which hurt in last night's 118-105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The good news came afterward, when it was learned that help for that problem is on the way.
Minutes after the game, general manager John Nash announced that 6-foot-10 forward Pervis Ellison will be activated for tomorrow night's game in Seattle. In activating Ellison, the Bullets waived their 1991 first-round pick, LaBradford Smith.
"Obviously, any time you have to let a young player go you regret it," Nash said. "But we have a lot more depth at that position [shooting guard] with the play of Mitchell Butler and Calbert Cheaney."
Perhaps the announcement was the reason the Bullets' locker room cleared out so quickly. Or maybe the quick departures were because of the team's third straight loss, which left Washington at 6-9.
Don MacLean scored 24 points and Rex Chapman had 20 to lead Washington, but there was not a lot to cheer about for the USAir Arena crowd of 16,122, which watched Portland -- playing its fourth game in five nights -- lead by as many as 25 points on the way to improving to 9-7.
Portland reserve forward Clifford Robinson's 26 points led four Trail Blazers with 20 points or more, the first time that has happened against Washington this season. For the second game in a row, the Bullets found themselves helpless against a superior West Coast team.
"We've played a lot of teams that are quick and athletic, and those styles of players really give us a lot of trouble," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "It's the same problem we've had for years."
Robinson, Clyde Drexler (25 points) and Terry Porter (22 points, nine assists) helped provide the quickness, but it was the power of forward Buck Williams that helped the Trail Blazers.
Williams, averaging 8.7 points and 10.5 rebounds, scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. His main contribution came during the third quarter when he scored 14 points -- making 6 of 7 shots -- and grabbed six of his rebounds. Portland was leading 64-57 with nine minutes left in the quarter, but Williams helped Portland increase the margin to 25 points, and take a 96-74 lead into the final quarter.
MacLean scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, making 8 of 10 shots, but Washington was never able to get closer than the final score.
"[Williams] has been rebounding the ball so well for us, and he ran the floor well," said Portland coach Rick Adelman, whose team is in the midst of a six-game, 10-day road trip. "He was just terrific, and I'm really happy for him. He does all the dirty work for us."
Neither of the players involved in the off-season trade between the teams was a factor. Harvey Grant made 2 of 10 shots from the field and had four points and four rebounds in 35 minutes. Kevin Duckworth, who made 3 of 4 shots in the first quarter, finished with nine points while playing only seven minutes in the second half.
What had to be disheartening for the Bullets was the 16 offensive rebounds by the Trail Blazers, which contributed to Portland's 52.1 percent shooting. It was a problem that the Bullets, who have given up 52 offensive rebounds in the past three games, discussed before last night's game.
"We talked about it, but we just didn't get the job done," MacLean said. "Our defensive rebounding has hurt us over the last couple of games. The reason why we were winning early was because of the way we rebounded."
Enter into the equation Ellison, who averaged 17.4 points and 8.8 rebounds in 49 games last season. Ellison has been scrimmaging with the team this week, and is apparently ready for the grind after his recovery from his arthroscopic surgery on both knees on May 11.
"He's certainly not going to be at 100 percent, but he's healthy," Nash said. "Mentally, he's got to prove he can do what he did a year ago. It's going to take a period of time -- at what level he'll be at, I don't know."
Smith, drafted 19th overall in 1991 out of Louisville, averaged 4.4 points in the seven games he played this season. He had a high game of 20 minutes and 16 points Nov. 10 against New York.
"We felt this was in the best interest of the team," said Nash, who added the team was unable to deal Smith.