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  •   Webber Dislocates Shoulder; Bullets Lose

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, December 23, 1994; Page F01

    OAKLAND, DEC. 22 — Chris Webber's return to the Bay Area took a terrible turn for the already battered Washington Bullets tonight when he suffered a dislocated left shoulder during the third quarter of what turned into a 107-87 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

    Webber said doctors told him he'd be sidelined from six to eight weeks, but Bullets trainer Kevin Johnson said a definitive diagnosis won't be made until X-rays are taken Friday in Los Angeles.

    At the very least, the Bullets have lost their leading scorer for a while. He joins their second- and third-leading scorers, Rex Chapman and Don MacLean, on the sideline. Forward Kenny Walker probably will be activated off the injured list to play Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

    "You couldn't print what I'm thinking," a frustrated Bullets Coach Jim Lynam said. "I've never been around anything like this. I said from the very beginning that injuries are a part of this thing. That's true and we're not the first team to have a lot of them. But this is ridiculous. This has been a heck of a stretch."

    Webber suffered the injury when he dived for a loose ball and landed solidly on his left shoulder with 9:25 left in the third quarter. He'd been booed and heckled virtually every time he touched the ball, but as he lay writhing in pain, the Oakland Coliseum Arena went silent. He was helped up and taken back to the locker room, where doctors popped the shoulder back into place.

    "It was definitely scary," Webber said. "I felt it pop out, and the pain was excruciating until they popped it back in. It doesn't feel too bad right now. I missed the dunk and was going for the ball. My first thought was to jump over Spree {Latrell Sprewell} and try to bounce the ball off his leg. I landed on my elbow and bounced a couple of times. I knew it was dislocated immediately. I could feel it pop out. The pain was awful."

    Webber returned to the Bullets' bench in street clothes and his left arm in a sling with 1:52 remaining and received a final round of boos.

    "There were kids in the stands sitting there watching their parents booing someone who'd just been hurt," Webber said. "Maybe athletes do need to be role models."

    But he remained upbeat, adding: "I expected the booing. It shows you that people only love you because of the team you're playing for. I'm been blessed. God has allowed me to play a game I love, and I can't complain about a little setback like this. The doctor said I'd be out six to eight weeks, but I'll be back. There's no reason to get down."

    Webber's injury overshadowed the many subplots as he returned to the team he played for last season, and the Bullets faced their former star, Tom Gugliotta, for the first time. Both teams had struggled badly since making the Gugliotta-for-Webber trade five weeks ago, but tonight, the Warriors (9-15) could smile a bit after snapping a 10-game losing streak. Gugliotta had a huge game against with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Webber played 23 minutes before getting hurt and had 14 points and seven rebounds.

    Once again, it was defense and poor shooting that stopped the Bullets, and it got them their eighth straight defeat. At 6-16, they've tied last year's team for the franchise's worst record after 22 games. They finish this four-game road trip Friday night against the 3-21 Los Angeles Clippers.

    "Now, we've really got to step up," Juwan Howard said. "We've got to have a lot of heart. We've got to take the attitude that we don't have anything to lose. I was scared for Chris because I thought it might be his knee. The shoulder is serious enough. It can be the kind of thing that can affect your entire career. I hope it doesn't happen with Chris."

    Other than the fact that it was a different city and opponent, nothing much changed for the Bullets. Another pitiful defensive effort allowed the Warriors to shoot 54 percent. Sprewell scored 25 points, and Tim Hardaway had 16 and Rony Seikaly 16.

    And the Bullets couldn't make their own shots. They shot a season-low 37 percent. Scott Skiles was the one and only Bullet to make more than half his shots and he led them with 19 points.

    No one else got close. Center Kevin Duckworth fouled out after a 3-for-10 performance, but he had plenty of company, including Howard (5-for-15), Webber (5-for-12), Calbert Cheaney (8-for-20) and Mitchell Butler (2-for-9).

    The Bullets had problems from the beginning -- the very beginning. What was supposed to be a 40-minute ride from downtown San Francisco to the Oakland Coliseum turned into a 90-minute nightmare thanks to a crush of holiday traffic. They arrived just 50 minutes before tipoff and rushed through their series of pregame meetings and tapings.

    Webber was met by thunderstorm of boos as he trotted onto the court for warmups, including dozens of signs. Some of them were supportive, but mostly they said things such as "You Big Baby" and "Get Well Nellie, Get Lost Webber." Nellie is Warriors Coach Don Nelson, who is home recovering from viral pneumonia. His son, Donn, is coaching the team in his absence.

    After pregame introductions, he turned and stared tauntingly at the fans sitting behind the Bullets' bench, and then he walked onto the court and exchanged words with Seikaly before the tipoff.

    Once the game started, the Warriors did most everything right. They were up 51-45 by halftime. The Bullets made a nice run in the third quarter and eventually led by 63-56.

    That was that. Sprewell and Seikaly owned the rest of the quarter, and the Warriors ended the quarter leading 79-71. The Bullets didn't get any closer in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors eventually turned it into a blowout.

    "It was exciting," Gugliotta said. "I think any player wants to do well against his former team. I wasn't trying to do anything unusual because they traded him. I was just taking my shots where I thought I could make a play."

    © Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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