INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Gugliotta pointed to one key statistic in last night's box score: 12 assists for the Washington Bullets.
"Look at how many assists we had," Gugliotta said after the Bullets lost their eighth straight game, 106-87, to the Indiana Pacers. "To me, that says a lot. We're not making the extra pass.
"We get caught up in running a play for one person, and he's going to shoot. That's not necessarily selfish; he's trying to get things going. But we're doing it on our own and we're getting away from what we did at the beginning of the season."
The Bullets missed out on many opportunities for assists simply by missing makable shots. Washington hit 32 of 88 from the field (36.4 percent) to remain winless in December.
"We let them run at us," said Rex Chapman, who hit seven of 14 from the field and led the Bullets with 18 points. "The big thing early was wemissed shots. When we started playing well, it was too late."
The Pacers never trailed, taking the lead for good with a 10-0 run early in the first quarter during which the Bullets missed seven straight shots. Two free throws by Dale Davis with 6:49 left gave Indiana a 16-6 edge.
The Bullets responded with seven straight, including five by Chapman, to cut Indiana's lead to 16-13. But the Pacers scored )) nine of the next 11 points and weren't threatened the rest of the way.
Indiana pounded the ball inside early, as Davis scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first period. Center Rik Smits, 7 feet 4, scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half.
"We had big people in there, but we've to play big," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "We tried to add quickness in the lineup and then we ran into matchup problems."
The Pacers went outside in the second half. Reggie Miller scored 12 points in a span of less than three minutes in the third period -- on three three-pointers and a three-point play -- and finished with 21 points and 10 assists. Recently acquired guard Byron Scott scored the Pacers' first nine points of the fourth period and finished with 16.
The Pacers, who started the season badly and still have a better record on the road than at home, improved to 8-11 in sending the Bullets to 6-14 overall and 1-8 on the road.
"We've gotten completely away from what we did early in the season," said Gugliotta, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. "Otherwise, we could beat this team. They're not that much better than us."
Kenny Walker added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Bullets. Michael Adams had 12 points and crowd favorite Calbert Cheaney added 11.
Cheaney, a rookie from nearby Indiana University, received a standing ovation from the crowd of 11,015 when he reported at the start of the second period. However, he was confused by the reaction when a foul was called on Scott as he guarded Cheaney a few minutes later.
"It's funny. They gave me a standing ovation when I got out there and when I got fouled they were giving the refs junk about the foul," he said with a laugh. "I said, 'Who are you rooting for?' It was fun."
Indiana led 39-25 early in the second quarter before a 10-2 Bullets run brought them within 41-35 with 6:03 to go after a Chapman dunk set up by a Cheaney steal. However, the Pacers repeatedly shoved the ball into Smits the rest of the half (eight points in the final five minutes) on the way to a 58-45 lead.
Miller's scoring binge propelled the Pacers to an 88-65 lead in the closing minutes of the third period. The Bullets never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.