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Lynam, Bullets hope they've reached bottom Nuggets are latest hurdle in a worsening situation


DENVER -- When the Washington Bullets had completed their off-season wheeling and dealing, coach Jim Lynam said, "The sky's the limit" as to how far the team could go. At the time, Lynam probably had no idea he would be asked, in the days before the All-Star break, whether he was worried about losing his job.

"No, no," was Lynam's reply yesterday. "I don't want to give a discourse on it, but all I can do is coach the team."

The team Lynam is coaching looks nothing like the squad that many expected to compete for the Atlantic Division title. Especially after the last two games, a 30-point loss Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers and a 22-point loss Monday at Utah.

The Bullets have lost six straight on the road (and eight of their past nine) and may be without Chris Webber (sprained left ankle) tonight as they attempt to end their slide against the Denver Nuggets. Webber did not practice yesterday.

In losing by a combined 52 points, the two games marked the worst back-to-back defeats by the Bullets since the opening month of the 1992-93 season, when they lost by 39 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then by 27 two nights later to the Orlando Magic.

Some of the players said they have never experienced anything like the back-to-back losses.

"Never been through anything like this before -- ever," Rod Strickland said. "This is probably bottoms right now."

Lynam said he also was surprised by the way his team dropped its last two games. But he also pointed to a schedule that has had the Bullets play 11 of their past 14 games on the road. Eleven of those 14 were against teams that are playing .500 ball or better, with seven of them against teams that are either first or second in their divisions.

The Bullets are 7-20 against teams that are playing .500 or better, and 0-13 against teams that are in either first or second place in their divisions.

"If I said pick the toughest block of [14] games, this is it," Lynam HTC said. "You don't have to be a brain surgeon. And finishing up with the teams that we had. "

Regardless of the stretch, the Bullets still have to be considered the most disappointing team in the NBA. But Lynam said it's important the team doesn't panic.

"You have to stay positive," he said. "[The lopsided losses] can be discouraging. But it's discouraging if you allow yourself to be discouraged. To drop your heart and be disappointed -- I don't think the team will do that."

Still, Lynam said this is no time to have a cavalier attitude about what has happened this week.

"Back-to-back games like that, it's unacceptable," Lynam said. "You can't put it in the realm of 'things happen.' That's a little too casual for me."

And that is far from the attitude most players are taking.

"We as a team have to realize that, and take each game we play with a harder fight," Juwan Howard said. "I don't want it to come toward the end of March and the beginning of April to look toward what the other teams are doing and trying to find an eighth spot in the playoffs. We should be worrying about ourselves, and try to get back on a winning track."

As for Lynam, he knows exactly what will cure the team's ills.

"You start feeling immediately better about yourself when you get your win," Lynam said. "That's my focus right now, to get a road win and stop the bleeding."

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Site: McNichols Sports Arena, Denver

Time: 9

TV/Radio: HTS/WWRC (980 AM)

Outlook: When the teams met Dec. 13, the Bullets were in the middle of a four-game winning streak. Tonight, Washington is trying to end a three-game losing streak and a six-game road skid. Denver (15-32) is coming off Saturday's 115-104 win over the Atlanta Hawks and has won six of its past 10. G Mark Jackson leads the league in assists (12.5) and has 23 double doubles -- tops among NBA guards. F LaPhonso Ellis (21.1 ppg) is one of six Denver players averaging in double figures.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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