Webber's 34 Points Aren't Enough
By J.A. Adande
How to explain the traveling Seattle SuperSonics running the rested Washington Bullets over the court in the first half, then having enough left to outlast the Bullets, 115-110, in two overtimes last night at USAir Arena?
How to explain the Bullets missing 52 of their first 87 shots, then going into overtime on a three-pointer by Chris Webber? And what were the Bullets even doing with a chance at overtime after trailing by 16 points in the fourth quarter?
Webber finished with 34 points, 13 rebounds, 7 blocked shots and 5 assists. He scored the Bullets' last five points in regulation--including the game-tying three-pointer with 5.5 seconds remaining--and scored all 10 in the first overtime.
In the second overtime, however, the Sonics ran off the first six points before guard Chris Whitney scored the Bullets' first points of the period, on a three-pointer with 1:05 remaining.
``I think the good sign is you saw a ton of heart displayed out there,''
Bullets Coach Jim Lynam said. ``We played okay, but we can play lot better than that.''
The Bullets are now 4-6, with three of their losses in overtime.
The SuperSonics, who played the night before in Toronto, have won nine straight games and are 10-2.
While the rest of his teammates missed their first five shots, Kemp made hi s first four. He scored 14 of Seattle's 23 points in the first quarter and had 23 of their 51 at halftime. He finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Seattle's other all-star, guard Gary Payton, shook loose for 31 points and seven assists.
The Sonics got penetration from Payton, inside baskets from Kemp and easy fast-break layups to shoot 50 percent in the first half. The pace presented plenty of chances for Bullets fast breaks, but they kept wasting them with sloppy passes.
As a result, the Sonics had a 15-2 advantage in fastbreak points at halftime. And the Bullets shot 38.7 percent in the first half.
The Sonics were on the verge of blowing the game open when they took a nine-point lead with 2:18 left in the second quarter. But Bullets guard Rod Str ickland flipped a pass to a cutting Webber for a dunk, drove for a layup of his own and threaded another pass between two defenders for Webber's layup, and the Bullets entered the half down by only three.
The tempo of the game slowed down. The Sonics didn't. Seattle started hitting outside shots and took a 13-point lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Bullets' shooting slowly sank down to a percentage that would look good only in baseball. They made one field goal in the final five minutes of the third quarter, and that didn't come until Webber followed up Whitney's miss with four-tenths of a second left.
They began the fourth quarter by making only two shots--a three-pointer by forward Tracy Murray and a dunk by Webber--in six minutes. The Sonics stuck to their game and went ahead by 18 points before the Bullets scored on five straight possessions (including two three-pointers by Whitney) and cut the lead to six.
Kemp made one of two free throws. Murray drilled a three-pointer to make it 96-92 with 50.9 seconds remaining. Kemp and Payton missed on Seattle's end and Webber got an easy dunk to pull within a basket.
The Bullets fouled Kemp with 10.4 seconds left, and he made only one free to give the Bullets one last chance.
Whitney wanted the shot, but he saw center Sam Perkins's long arms waving in his face so he passed to Webber.
In overtime, Webber scored the first three times the Bullets had the ball, but the Sonics kept coming up with an answer, be it forward Detlef Schrempf's hook shot, Perkins's basket in the lane or Payton's free throw.
After Strickland had his shot blocked, the Bullets got lost in the shuffle of their transition defense and Perkins wound up with a wide-open three-pointer. Bullets forward Juwan Howard missed, but Kemp missed two free throws that could have made it a two-possession game.
Given the reprieve, the Bullets tied the score when Howard rebounded Whitney's miss and flipped the ball to Webber, who slammed it.