LANDOVER -- He was having the type of season shooting guards dream about, posting numbers that were worthy of All-Star consideration. For Washington Bullets guard Rex Chapman, it was the season of his six-year career.
But yesterday, against the San Antonio Spurs, Chapman's season was interrupted when he landed on the foot of Spurs forward Dennis Rodman after a first-quarter drive to the basket. The prognosis was a subtalor dislocation of the right foot, an injury that will keep Chapman out for up to 10 weeks.
Losing their leading scorer overshadowed the Bullets' effort in their 100-87 loss to the Spurs. Washington grabbed a franchise-record low of 23 rebounds in having their three-game win streak end.
San Antonio played without center David Robinson, who sat out his first game in 120 with a sore right knee. The Spurs were able to win without their leading scorer. The Bullets, who have had trouble just winning, face more of a struggle.
"This affects us a lot," Tom Gugliotta said. "He was having a great season, probably the best of his career. We need the younger guys to step up now and fill in for him."
Chapman, who was averaging 18.4 points going into the game, scored on the layup with 1:19 left in the first quarter when his right foot landed on Rodman's foot. Chapman's right leg appeared to twist, and he was left writhing on the floor. He eventually was carried off the court by teammates Mitchell Butler and Doug Overton, and later taken by ambulance to the Bowie Health Center, where he was examined by Dr. Richard Grossman.
Whether the injury had an effect on the way the Bullets played is not known. But Washington, which led just once in the first quarter, appeared flat throughout the afternoon. At the half, when they trailed 50-40, the Bullets only had 11 rebounds. That matched the total of Rodman, the league's leading rebounder, who finished with 19.
"They were all on the glass; It's one thing to keep Rodman boxed out, but it's hard to go get the ball when you do," said Gugliotta, whose five rebounds led the Bullets. "They did a good job all around. They had all five guys on the glass at times."
San Antonio also shot the ball well, getting off to a good start when it hit 13 of 18 shots (72.2 percent) in the first quarter. For the game, San Antonio was 54.7 percent from the field, with Terry Cummings, filling in at center, scoring a season-high 21. Dale Ellis had 20, and Negele Knight added 19 off the bench for the Spurs.
San Antonio also did a good job shutting down Don MacLean, who scored 17 but hit just four of 11 shots. MacLean had been averaging 24.8 points the past five games.
"You're going to have games like that," MacLean said. "Rodman is a good defender. After Rex went out, they began to focus on me defensively."
It appeared the entire San Antonio team was playing Rodman-like defense against the Bullets. Michael Adams, who had been averaging 11 points and 10 assists the past five games, had just three points and five assists and was posted up by the taller San Antonio guards all game. Kevin Duckworth and Pervis Ellison combined for 15 points and seven rebounds, and had difficulty chasing the quicker Cummings.
"This was a great win for us, a good all-around team effort," Spurs coach John Lucas said. "We're playing our style of ball. Dennis Rodman is playing great, Willie Anderson is playing great and Terry Cummings is playing like a young kid."
And as the Spurs improved their record to 26-12, the Bullets were left shopping for a player to fill Chapman's role. An hour after the game, general manager John Nash was on the phone searching for a guard.
"We need to take means to protect ourselves," he said. "We have to determine when and where we get a player. We're in the process of looking.
"We'll look at the CBA, we'll look at Europe, we'll look at other NBA teams," Nash added. "A player in the NBA is likely to be better suited than one from the CBA or Europe."
For now, Calbert Cheaney, who started the season at small forward, more than likely will fill Chapman's spot at shooting guard. Cheaney played 33 minutes yesterday, scoring 14 on six-of-12 shooting.
"What happened to Rex is really rare," Cheaney said of the dislocated ankle. "I'll just have to step in there and do the best that I can."
NOTES: Bullets forward Larry Stewart underwent surgery on his broken right foot yesterday. Stewart, who rebroke his foot at a practice on Dec. 28, is scheduled to be released from the hospital today. . . . Rodman scored just two points to go with his 19 rebounds. He only attempted one shot, getting a tip-in with 3:01 left in the third quarter. . . . Fans not attending the game because of the freezing conditions can exchange their unused tickets for the Jan. 27 game against the Dallas Mavericks. . . . The Bullets' 24 rebounds did not set an NBA record for futility. The record is 20, held by New York (vs. Fort Wayne, Feb. 14, 1955) and Buffalo (vs. Houston, Feb. 17, 1974).