EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As badly as the Washington Bullets have played this season, and as poorly as the team had shot in losing three straight games, the bad times figured to end with the schedule changed.
That's what the New Jersey Nets will do for an opponent.
The Nets are the worst team in the NBA. And this ragtag group of NBA wanna-bes is exactly what the Bullets needed.
And they took advantage, using a full-court defense for an extended time for the first time this season and causing 30 turnovers in last night's 106-91 win over the Nets (0-4) at the Continental Airlines Arena.
"We can't beat the Washington Generals with 30 turnovers," said the Nets' Jayson Williams while looking at a stat sheet. "I'm like Mike Tyson after the third round -- after that second quarter, I don't remember anything that happened out there."
The win came one night after Washington's poorest performance of the season, a 92-79 loss to the Detroit Pistons at USAir Arena. ZTC Last night marked the third time this season that the Bullets (3-4) had played in back-to-back games. It was the first time they won in the second game of a back-to-back.
"We know that if we play strong defense, we can score points," the Bullets' Juwan Howard said. "Today, we all went after it. And the turnovers helped in transition basketball."
All the things that went wrong for the Bullets in the loss to the Pistons went right last night. Chris Webber controlled the inside (26 points), Howard made his shots (8-for-16, 22 points) and Rod Strickland did an excellent job penetrating and getting his teammates easy shots (eight assists).
The Bullets didn't even look that good in the first half, and still they had a 56-37 halftime lead. As improbable as it might sound, the Nets actually led several times, the largest at 11-8 on a jumper by rookie Kerry Kittles with 7: 28 left.
In fact, the Nets were competitive over the first 12 minutes, trailing, 26-21.
But it all caved in for the Nets in the first four minutes of the second quarter. During that span, the Bullets surged on an 8-0 run, taking a 34-23 lead when Tracy Murray hit a three-pointer with 9: 03 left. When Murray dunked with 6: 11 remaining, the Bullets led, 41-25.
The only surprise at that point was that no Bullet had dunked on New Jersey 7-foot-6 center Shawn Bradley -- given that everyone in the league seems to have added a "dunked on Shawn Bradley" highlight to their resume. That moment came with 3: 12 remaining in the half when Webber, catching the ball in the lane, dribbled twice and threw the ball down in Bradley's face for a 50-32 lead.
"There's only two 7-foot-6 guys in the world," Webber said with a grin. "You only get a few chances, and you have to take advantage."
Pub Date: 11/14/96