NEW YORK -- A lopsided first half was drawing to a close, and so appeared to be the Washington Bullets' evening. It was going so bad for the visitors that one of the fans not far behind the Bullets' bench began to let loose:
"You guys," the guy screamed, "are worse than an expansion team."
With no expansion in the NBA this season, there really is no way to tell. But the Bullets, over the course of the evening, managed to tie the worst losing streak in franchise history with a 110-100 loss before a sellout crowd of 19,756.
It was the 13th straight loss for the Bullets, matching the streak set by the Baltimore Bullets during the 1966-67 season. The Bullets will face the Milwaukee Bucks at the USAir Arena tomorrow, hoping to avoid a lone spot in the team record book.
What's a Bullets game these days without an updated injury report? Calbert Cheaney started the game but, because of the flu, played just 14 minutes. And backup center Jim McIlvaine injured his left ankle during the team shoot-around earlier in the day. He sat in uniform the entire game, applying electronic stimulation.
Maybe the Bullets need to apply a little of that to their game. The Bullets trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half, before finally showing some signs of life in the third quarter.
The Bullets were behind 67-48 at the half, when Chris Webber (27 points, five rebounds) briefly brought the team back.
Webber, who scored a quiet eight points in the first half, opened the third quarter with a three-pointer. And the Bullets opened the period with a 22-7 run, which ended with Washington scoring 10 straight points. By the time Juwan Howard (18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) scored two free throws with 3:36 left, the Bullets were within 74-70 and eventually went into the fourth quarter trailing, 82-77.
But it was all a tease, as the Knicks would pull away in the fourth on their way to their 13th straight game against the Bullets, and their 10th straight over Washington at the Garden.
In a game that ended a brief two-game road trip for the Bullets, this one appeared to be over early. New York started the game with a 10-3 run, had a double-digit lead just over the midway point of the first quarter, and never looked back the rest of the half.
In his second game back, after missing 10 games with a sprained right ankle, Howard once again struggled in the early going. He hit just one of five shots and grabbed two rebounds while playing the entire first quarter.
The only real effective player for the Bullets in the quarter was Gheorghe Muresan, who usually plays well against Patrick Ewing. Muresan also played the entire first quarter, and led all Washington scorers with eight points.
But the Bullets would shoot just 35.0 percent in the first quarter. Defensively, Washington had difficulty stopping the Knicks, who shot 58.3 percent in the quarter, helping New York to a 35-23 lead.
With 10 players scoring in the first half, the Knicks simply had too much depth for Washington. A three-pointer by reserve guard Hubert Davis had the Knicks ahead, 53-35, by the midway point of the second quarter. And the Knicks would lead by as many as 21 points, that coming on two free throws by Ewing with 33 seconds left that gave New York a 67-49 lead.
Ewing scored 14 points for the Knicks. John Starks and Charles Smith had nine each. And the Knicks registered their highest scoring first half of the season in taking a 67-48 halftime lead.
As well as the Knicks played offensively in the first half, a poor offensive showing in the third quarter allowed the Bullets back in the game. New York would score just seven points over the first 7:47 of the period.