Ellison, Bullets face tough road back on Seattle-Utah-Phoenix trip


SEATTLE -- Nine days ago, the Washington Bullets were considered one of the surprise teams in the NBA, courtesy of back-to-back wins over Orlando and Charlotte. Through 12 games they were 6-6, a large feat for a franchise that has struggled for years.

But what a difference a week makes. On Saturday, one week after shutting down Shaquille O'Neal and the Magic, the Bullets got picked apart at home by the Portland Trail Blazers, 118-105. The loss, the team's third straight, dropped the Bullets to 6-9 going into a tough three-game trip.

Now the Bullets get a chance to regroup, with the addition of 6-foot-10 Pervis Ellison, who will be activated for tonight's game against the Seattle SuperSonics. Ellison comes back from off-season surgery on both knees, to return against a Seattle team that has the league's second-best record (13-1).

The team is hoping the addition of Ellison, who takes LaBradford Smith's roster spot, will help boost the mood -- and front-line play -- of a team that faces three road games in four nights against Seattle, the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns -- all strong teams. The Bullets could return home for Saturday's game in Baltimore six games under .500 -- and with their confidence shot.

"Potentially that [the road trip losses] could hurt. But we can't let it hurt," said Rex Chapman, who scored 20 points against Portland. "That's the hand we've been dealt. We have to suck it up and maybe get a quality win on the road."

It will be difficult. The Bullets haven't won in Seattle in nearly 14 years (Jan. 2, 1980), and have lost nine straight overall to the Sonics. It has been been just as fruitless in Utah (last road win Feb. 29, 1987) and Phoenix (last road win Feb. 27, 1988).

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