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Bullets, Skiles trip Mavs

THE BALTIMORE SUN

DALLAS -- It was yet another challenge for Scott Skiles, this time facing the point guard of the future in Dallas Mavericks rookie Jason Kidd. But the Washington Bullets' 30-year-old veteran showed in the end he still has enough skills to steal the show.

Skiles hit an off-balance jumper with 3.1 seconds left in regulation to tie last night's game at 113, then hit two big free throws with 11.4 seconds left in overtime to help Washington to a 124-121 win at Reunion Arena last night.

Chris Webber scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and six players scored in double figures as the Bullets (6-8) began a tough road trip in impressive fashion. The Bullets had to overcome a 45-point effort from Mavericks forward Jamal Mashburn in the back-and-forth contest.

Skiles finished with eight assists and 13 points, none bigger than the shot at the end of regulation that helped the Bullets overcome an eight-point deficit with 5:04 left.

"The ball was in my hand, the clock was running down and I had to get the shot off," said Skiles, who was on his way down when he let the shot fly. "[Roy] Tarpley came over, I threw it over his hand and it went in."

Then the Bullets finished off the Mavericks in overtime with Rex Chapman, who has struggled with his shot of late, hitting two big jumpers. The first, with 2:30 left, gave Washington a 118-117 lead. After the Mavericks tied the game on a free throw by Jim Jackson, Chapman popped free from the baseline and hit a 17-foot jumper with 29.3 seconds left for a 120-118 lead and the game.

"Kevin [Duckworth] and Chris set great staggered screens and Scott got me the ball," Chapman said. "We've been playing from behind, and to get over the hump is great. We needed a lift to dig ourselves from a hole."

There were many Bullets contributors. Duckworth matched Chapman with a season-high 20 points. And Calbert Cheaney and Juwan Howard gave the Bullets a big lift off the bench, scoring 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Howard also had 11 rebounds and four steals, playing by far his best game since joining the Bullets. His nine-point, eight-rebound second quarter helped the Bullets climb back from an eight-point hole to take a 66-57 halftime lead.

"It feels great," said Howard, who was told by Webber before the game to start picking up his effort. "I've rushed and played anxious. I'm starting to adjust more offensively [six of nine from the field], and I'm starting to get my feel back."

Still, that joy was almost ruined by Mashburn, who hit 18 of 28 shots and recorded the first 40-plus-point game by a Maverick at Reunion Arena since Derek Harper scored 42 against the Portland Trail Blazers in a triple-overtime game in 1989. Mashburn had a 50-point outing earlier this year, and is establishing himself as one of the league's premier small forwards.

"We've seen it enough in the summer," said Chapman, who along with Mashburn played college ball at Kentucky.

Asked how you stop Mashburn, Kenny Walker, another Kentucky alum who was seated beside Chapman, just shook his head.

"We've tried," Walker said of Mashburn, who last night posted up and drove at will.

It was Mashburn who hit a 13-foot jumper with 22.8 seconds left in regulation that gave the Mavericks a 113-111 lead, coming just before Skiles' heroics. After Chapman gave the Bullets the 120-118 lead in overtime, Mashburn's short jumper that would have tied the game hit off the back rim.

"He's amazing," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam. "He's getting such position in the paint area, it's tough to double. The other thing is his cross over move. He goes right to left, and goes right by you."

Dallas also got big efforts from Jackson (26 points), Kidd (11 points, 12 assists) and Popeye Jones (13 points, 19 rebounds). But it was Washington that started the stretch of eight road games over its next 10 in impressive fashion.

"I think we played with a lot of poise," Lynam said. "Any time you start your road trip with a win, of course it's a lift."

Webber, despite his six turnovers, was again solid.

"It's very important to start this way, it builds your confidence," Webber said. "This isn't like last year when you expect to win at Dallas. Looking at the firepower they have, it was hard. They're good players."

The road doesn't get any easier. Tomorrow night the Bullets will play at Denver, then travel to San Antonio and Houston. Not having had much success on December road trips in recent years, last night's win was sweet.

"Hopefully this can help us start our run," Howard said. "This was a good win, to beat a team like Dallas. Maybe now we can get on a roll."

dTC

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