TACOMA, Wash. -- The Washington Bullets brought the nets down too early last night.
With nine minutes to play, Chris Webber slammed home a hard dunk, giving the Bullets a 14-point lead but tearing the net in the process and forcing a 10-minute timeout to fix it.
The Seattle SuperSonics responded with a 32-13 run to hand the Bullets another loss, 108-103, before 13,775 at the Tacoma Dome.
Coming into the game, Washington had blown second-half leads of 21 and 18 (twice) this season.
"That definitely had something to do with it," Webber said, referring to the delay. "That seemed to let them get their composure."
Said Seattle's Detlef Schrempf: "It changed the momentum. There was a lot of doubt as to whether we could come back."
The Bullets wasted a career-high 26 points by center Gheorghe Muresan.
"It's a game we should have won," Webber said. "We got a good game from [Muresan]. I have confidence in the big fella."
After scoring the first four points of the final period to take a 14-point lead, the Bullets were outscored 26-12, as Schrempf tied the score at 102 with a three-pointer in the final minute.
Seconds later, point guard Gary Payton (24 points) gave the Sonics their first lead since the opening period on a underhand bank shot with 16.9 seconds left.
Webber's dunk gave the Bullets a 90-76 lead with 9:21 left, but Seattle came back to beat Washington for the 12th straight time overall and 15th straight on their home court.
The Bullets were kept in the game by the shooting of Calbert Cheaney and Rex Chapman, but each missed three-point attempts in the final minute that would have tied the score or given the Bullets the lead.
Cheaney had 23 points and eight rebounds, and Webber finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
The Sonics could not stop Muresan in the first half as the 7-foot-7 center scored 18 points on a variety of short hooks and jumpers. He connected on his first seven shots and ended the half with 18 points on 9-for-10 shooting. He rebounded his only miss and dropped in a short hook as the Bullets took a 60-50 halftime lead.
It took him two minutes in the second half to surpass his career high of 21 set last season against the Charlotte Hornets and equaled last week against the Chicago Bulls.
Muresan, who scored just two points in the Bullets' first meeting with the Sonics in January, did get a little help from forward
Shawn Kemp, who gave him four points on goaltending violations. Kemp showed his frustration at the other end of the court by trying unsuccessfully to dunk over Muresan.
With Muresan clogging up the middle, Seattle had to rely on its guards for scoring. Payton had 18 points in the first half and Nate McMillan had seven from outside.
Seattle held a 13-9 lead midway through the first period, at which point the Bullets went on a 10-0 run, led by four points apiece from Webber and Don MacLean.
When MacLean and Webber were forced to the bench with their third fouls, Muresan took over, scoring six of the Bullets' next eight points for a 27-23 lead after one period.
Chapman had 11 first-half points off the bench for the Bullets and Webber returned in time to contribute 10, including a spectacular reverse jam off a missed shot.
Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers
Site: Great Western Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WTEM (570 AM)
Outlook: This is the teams' second and final meeting of the season. The Lakers won the first, 112-96, in November at USAir Arena. The Bullets lost for the third time in four games, 111-106, to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Rex Chapman (26 points) accounted for all of Washington's bench scoring. F Juwan Howard sprained his ankle in Sunday's win over Cleveland and did not play. The Lakers got one of their key players back on Wednesday in F Cedric Ceballos, who had missed 22 games. Ceballos scored 11 points in 19 minutes as the Lakers downed Portland, 121-114.