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Hot Spurs shoot down Bullets

THE BALTIMORE SUN

SAN ANTONIO -- It was supposed to be better than this.

With their blockbuster moves, the Washington Bullets were supposed to go on road trips and be competitive. Maybe win a few games.

Instead, the Bullets came into the Alamodome last night and gave their best impersonation of the Los Angeles Clippers, losing to the San Antonio Spurs, 122-101, their most embarrassing effort of the season.

The Bullets (6-10) could neither score effectively nor stop anyone. They were blown out in the third quarter when the Spurs (9-9), hitting 15 of 18 shots (83.3 percent) outscored Washington 42-23.

"They shot the lights out in the third period," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "Our defense the last three games hasn't been good. You're not going to have a chance if you let another team score like that."

During San Antonio's big third period, Spurs reserve forward Chuck Person hit four of four three-pointers, tying a franchise record for most threes in a quarter. The Spurs' six three-pointers in the period set a team record.

"I wouldn't want to say one thing, there are too many things," said Bullets point guard Scott Skiles, when asked what's wrong with the team. "For me it's very, very, very disappointing.

"We had a lot of trouble on offense and we had a lot of trouble stopping them," Skiles said. "You put those two things together, it's a problem."

David Robinson had 21 points, Sean Elliott 18 and Vinny Del Negro 17, and they were spectators for most of the second half.

It turned out to be a good situation for Dennis Rodman, who, playing his first game of the season, was able to work out some kinks during an extended session of garbage time.

There were few highlights for the Bullets, who were still without Rex Chapman and Don MacLean. Chapman, who injured his right groin muscle and missed Saturday's game in Denver, dressed but did not play. MacLean, who yesterday was found to have tendinitis in both knees, was put on the injured list and replaced on the roster by Gheorghe Muresan.

Mitchell Butler led the Bullets with 24, and Chris Webber had 21.

"You want to ask me for a solution -- I don't know," Webber said. "I don't know what to say, I've said everything.

"I'm not going to get used to this, I'm never going to get used to this," Webber added. "I'm emotionally drained, nearly burned out. I'll just keep doing what I can do."

The Bullets once again had Calbert Cheaney and Anthony Tucker in the starting lineup.

They combined for three of Washington's first five field goals. And Cheaney's dunk off the fast break nearly three minutes in the game gave the Bullets an 11-4 lead.

Del Negro's 14-foot jumper from started the Spurs on an 18-7 run. Robinson tied the game at 16 with two free throws, and Elliott was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit three free throws that with 4:22 left gave the Spurs a 22-18 lead.

That got the Alamodome crowd into the game, but that was just the start. When Rodman made his first appearance with 3:23 left, the forward sporting a loud green hairdo was given a standing ovation.

Rodman's first shot, a layup, was good. He also had an assist in his three minutes. And on the strength of hitting 14 of 17 free throws in the quarter, the Spurs led 32-24.

The Bullets came back to tie the game at 34 when they opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run, with Tucker scoring five of the points. But free throws would hurt the Bullets.

Washington continued to foul, and Robinson was a perfect eight-for-eight from the free throw line in the quarter. Two free throws by Robinson with just under four minutes left gave San Antonio a 50-40 lead.

San Antonio, which led by as many as 11, hit 21 of 25 first-half free throws. Washington, the best shooting free-throw team in the league early on, was 0-for-6. That 21-0 disadvantage at the free-throw line was more than enough to help the Spurs to a 57-46 halftime lead.

BULLETS TONIGHT

Opponent: Houston Rockets

Site: The Summit, Houston

Time: 8:30

TV/Radio: Ch. 20/WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Outlook: Washington concludes a four-game road trip against the defending NBA champs. Houston opened the season with a nine-game winning streak but has cooled off, winning three of its past nine. C Hakeem Olajuwon has shown little drop-off from his MVP season, staying among the league leaders in scoring (26 ppg), rebounding (10.8) and blocks (3.7).

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