Disjointed? Confused? Indecisive? Take your pick. The Washington Bullets certainly did in falling to the Indiana Pacers, 102-95, tonight at Market Square Arena.
For much of the game, the Bullets seemed unable to decide just how much -- and when -- they wanted to play in the game. Clark Kellogg led the Pacers with 29 points, including four consecutive points late in the final period that effectively iced the victory for Indiana.
The two baskets came on offensive rebounds and were part of a 9-0 run between the 2:15 and 33-second marks of the game. That only underscored Indiana's 53-32 rebounding edge, a total that included 16 offensive rebounds for the home team.
Just before Kellogg's burst, the Bullets had drawn to 93-90, with a 17-6 run keyed by Greg Ballard (19 points) and Jeff Malone (20).
Unfortunately for Washington, that spree came on the heels of a 16-5 Indiana spurt, which followed an 8-0 Washington streak, which followed a 15-6 Indiana spurt -- get the picture? Bullets Coach Gene Shue certainly did.
"The Pacers played well throughout the game," Shue said. "We had our chances in the fourth quarter, but when they were missing and missing we never did anything to take control of the game."
The loss was the Bullets' first of the season to the Pacers after three victories. The initial victory, a 104-102 game Oct. 27, saw Washington center Jeff Ruland take control down the stretch and finish with 31 points.
Tonight, Ruland returned after a nine-game absence due to a strained right shoulder. There were times in his 30 minutes of action that the all-star seemed ready to make a repeat performance, but he mustered only 11 points for the game.
"It felt good being back and playing but it would have felt better being back and winning," Ruland said. "There was no question that we should have won the game, but we lost it in the second half when we stopped playing defense."
For most of the game, Washington (27-21) had trouble dealing with the Pacers' hurry-up, run-and-shoot, motion offense, which, along with their offensive rebounding, accounted for the Pacers' 90-77 edge in field goal attempts.
"I was really pleased with the end result," Indiana Coach George Irvine said. "We played well, but there were times we really struggled."
More often than not, however, the team bailed itself out with defense. Center Herb Williams, in addition to scoring 22 points, had six blocked shots. And, after allowing the Bullets' leading scorer, Gus Williams, to get 16 first-half points, the Pacers held him to seven in the final two quarters.
The only thing really out of keeping with the game's roller-coaster motif came at the 9:49 mark of the final period, when the Bullets' Darren Daye was ejected for taking a swing at Indiana's Tony Brown.
The play occurred after a basket by Ballard began Washington's final run of the night. The two had tangled underneath the Washington hoop, and when they separated, Daye swung. Shortly thereafter, the forward was ejected, just before Mel Daniels, the Pacers' 6-foot-9 assistant coach, had begun to move menacingly toward Daye.
"It was just one of those unfortunate things that happen," Shue said. "On the play before, Brown knocked into Darren and, you know, he was just doing the same thing back."
Jazz 121, Mavericks 109: Without high scorer Adrian Dantley, Utah relied on Darrell Griffith's 30 points, Rickey Green's 17 assists and Mark Eaton's 10 blocked shots to win before an estimated 7,000 in snowy Dallas.
Dantley, the NBA's third-leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, was benched by Coach Frank Layden after missing two practices this week.
Dallas lost its fourth in six games despite 38 points from Mark Aguirre.