John Lucas' homecoming wasn't a very happy one.
The Washington Bullet guard's biggest fears were realized Saturday night when he returned to the Oakland Coliseum before a crowd of 11,901 and his team lost to the Golden State Warriors, 110-102. Lucas was booed heartily virtually the entire night.
Lucas used to be a hero of the Warrior fans, but his erratic behavior last season in missing six games and twice as many practices soured many of his followers. And they weren't any more sympathetic after Lucas admitted a month ago that it was a problem with cocaine that caused him so much trouble his last year as a Warrior.
"I was very apprehensive about playing here," Lucas said. "I was a little nervous and not my usual aggressive self. I knew the crowd would be on me, but it still bothered me."
When Lucas was introduced as a starting guard he was greeted with a prolonged string of boos and, after that, every time he touched the ball the boos picked up.
It led to an off night for Lucas, who scored seven points in 37 minutes. He also had nine assists, but committed five turnovers as the Bullets lost for the second straight time. They did win three games on the six-game, two-week trip, a feat that left most of them satisfied.
"We'll take three, and we played awfully tough in two of the other games," said Coach Gene Shue.
The trip started with victories in San Antonio and Dallas, followed by a loss in Houston, a victory in Portland, another loss in Seattle and finally the loss at Golden State. The only game the Bullets weren't in was the one in Seattle, which they lost, 105-87.
"I think maybe we were just ready to go home," said Greg Ballard. "We were really starting to get tired of the road. We didn't have any goals before the trip, except to play as hard as we could every game and hope for the best. Well, we played hard and won half the games. Even though we're two games below .500 (25-27) I think we're in pretty good shape."
The Bullets stayed with the Warriors until the final two minutes.
A steal and resulting fast-break dunk by Don Collins reduced what was at one time an eight-point Warrior lead to one point, 98-97, with four minutes to play. Neither team could score in the next 90 seconds, but the Warriors scored the game's next nine points to put the game away.
World B. Free started the rally with two free throws after he was fouled by Rick Mahorn. After Jeff Ruland missed a shot, Bernard King scored on a jumper over Ballard. Lucas threw away the ball on the Bullets' next possession and King got a three-point play out of it at the other end, scoring on a drive over Ballard as Ballard fouled him.
J.B. Carroll ended the flurry with a base line jumper, giving the Warriors a 107-97 lead with 55 seconds left.
The Warriors shot 58 percent from the field and had 26 points from Free and 19 each from King and Carroll. Reserve Purvis Short contributed 11 fourth-quarter points and another Warrior reserve, Mike Gale, made all six of his field goal attempts.
"You can't win in this game unless you can shoot from the outside and we just aren't hitting those shots." said Shue. "We weren't hitting the shots, so they just packed inside and wouldn't let us penetrate, either."
Kevin Grevey, the Bullets' primary long range shooter, injured his right hand against Dallas and didn't play in Houston, Portland or Seattle and played only nine minutes and took one shot against the Warriors. His right index finger, which has injured tendons and ligaments, was still very painful Saturday.
"I just got tired of watching," he said. "It felt a lot better than it had felt. I still couldn't do much, but they need me."
Without Grevey, the Bullets' best outside shooters are Ballard and Frank Johnson. Ballard scored 22 points on nine-of-23 shooting against the Warriors, but Johnson was three for 13, following a two-for-12 performance in Seattle.
Mahorn was high scorer for the Bullets with 24 points, 22 in the second half, on 10-for-13 shooting.
The Bullets will play eight of their next 11 games at Capital Centre beginning with games against Utah Tuesday, Kansas City Friday and New York Sunday. The Bullets are only 11-14 at Capital Centre, however, and 14-13 on the road.