EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Coming off their worst performance and worst half-court offense of the season, the Washington Bullets came out last night with a simple plan: Get the ball to Rod Strickland, and get it to him often.
"We're not the greatest perimeter shooting team, night in and night out," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "But if we can get out on the open floor with Rod, that's when we're at our best."
So the Bullets did that last night, jump-starting their fast break with a pressure defense that forced 30 turnovers. They easily defeated the New Jersey Nets, 106-91, before 10,884 at the Continental Airlines Arena.
One night after the Bullets couldn't shoot straight in a loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Bullets (3-4) shot better than 50 percent to end a three-game losing streak and improve to 2-1 on the road.
Chris Webber scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Juwan Howard had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Strickland had 14 points and eight assists.
Those numbers slight Strickland's importance. He was the catalyst of the pressure defense with a team-high four steals. "We just wanted to run, that's the bottom line," he said. "Running is what we need to do more of, and we haven't been running for some reason."
Strickland did that running while taking advantage of New Jersey rookie point guard Kerry Kittles, who was making his first start. Kittles had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. But that was about the only positive the Nets could boast.
The Nets did have a big rebounding edge, 58-39. But that advantage was misleading as they grabbed many of their misses (28 offensive rebounds).
A lot of those misses came in the second quarter, when the Nets were 5-for-19. After trailing 26-21 at the end of the first quarter, the Nets were down by as many as 20 points in the second quarter, when the team committed 12 turnovers. By halftime the Nets had 21 turnovers, and not many teams are going to win games doing that -- especially a team as pathetic as New Jersey.
"We can't beat the Washington Generals with 30 turnovers," said the Nets' Jayson Williams, looking at the stat sheet. "I'm like Mike Tyson after the third round -- after that second quarter, I don't remember anything that happened out there."
On a night when just about everything went right for the Bullets, the only question was who would throw down the almost mandatory dunk on Bradley -- something that seems to happen to the Nets' 7-foot-6 center every game.
Tracy Murray tried in the second quarter, and missed. But Webber had his moment with less than two minutes left in the second quarter when he dribbled twice, soared and threw the ball down in the face of the challenging Bradley.
"There's only two 7-foot-6 guys in the world. You only get a few chances, and you have to take advantage of it," Webber said.
Pub Date: 11/14/96