The Washington Bullets improvised their way past the Dallas Mavericks last night in what Coach Gene Shue called a remarkable win for his injury-riddled team.
The Bullets had Dallas so flustered that the Mavericks scored only one point in the final 6 minutes 45 seconds, and the Bullets came from seven points down to win, 92-84, before 6,648 at Capital Centre.
Rick Mahorn, bouncing back from a season-low two points in his last outing at New York Saturday, scored a season-high 23 points, eight of them in the last eight minutes, and contributed 16 rebounds to lead the Bullets. But it was Charles Davis' play, first in relief of foul-plagued forward Greg Ballard and then in relief of cold-shooting guard Kevin Grevey, that gave the Bullets perhaps their biggest lift.
Davis finished with a season-high 18 points. He also had six rebounds and five assists.
Moving Davis to guard in the final minutes wasn't the only innovative move Shue was forced to make. With Spencer Haywood again not in uniform because of an eye injury, Dave Batton started at forward. When Ballard picked up his third foul four minutes into the game, he had to go to the bench, too, and didn't play the rest of the half.
Grevey missed nine of 10 shots and Carlos Terry, a good defensive player, isn't an outside shooter, so Shue went to Davis in the back court for the final 5 1/2 minutes.
In an effort to keep Ballard from fouling out, Shue also had him guard the Dallas center at times and late in the game Shue platooned his point guards, Kevin Porter to play offense and Bryan Warrick to play defense.
"This was a remarkable win because we had to make so many changes," said Shue. "We tried everything we could. What you saw is all we've got."
The Bullets appeared to have the game pretty much in control when they moved to an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but the Mavericks used a 15-3 spurt to wipe it out.
The Bullets went into the fourth quarter with a 73-72 lead, but the Mavericks outscored them, 9-1, to take an 81-74 advantage with 8:46 left. Mark Aguirre, who led Dallas with 21 points, had five in the spurt.
The Mavericks were still up, 83-78, after Kelvin Ransey scored on a driving layup with 6:45 remaining, but the rest of the game was a nightmare for the visitors.
On their last 12 possessions of the game, they missed all 10 of their shots from the field, committed three turnovers and scored only one point, on a free throw by Aguirre with 3:51 left.
Two free throws by Jeff Ruland, followed by a left-handed turnaround shot by Mahorn and a driving layup by Porter, put the Bullets ahead, 84-83, with 4:53 to play.
Aguirre's free throw tied the score at 84 and the Bullets then scored the game's final eight points, four of them by Mahorn.
Dallas made only four of 20 shots in the fourth quarter and shot 39 percent for the game.
"Greg just couldn't get in the flow of the game and Grevey couldn't make anything, so we had to go inside to Jeff and Rick," said Shue, "and then Charles gave us the outside shooting."
Mahorn, who had a virus and took only four shots Saturday, said he felt fine last night "and was looking to score." He made 10 of 23 shots, most of them medium-range jumpers.