There are some nights, over the six-month, 82-game marathon that makes up an NBA season, when the basketball displayed is not exactly ready for a Hall of Fame film.
Tonight at Chicago Stadium was one of those occasions, as the Washington Bullets outlasted the Chicago Bulls, 98-92. The Bulls, who shot 34 for 91 from the field, were as cold as the subzero temperatures outside the building. Although the Bullets were slightly more accurate with their shots (41 for 93), their handling of the ball was nothing to write home about.
Still, a win is a win is a win, especially on the road when a team is playing without its best player. So, despite the absence of center Jeff Ruland, the Bullets came away with a victory over the Bulls, who were playing without injured all-star Michael Jordan.
Cliff Robinson led the Bullets with 27 points, and Jeff Malone had 17. Quintin Dailey led the Bulls with 31.
It was hard to say which team missed its injured player more. In the game's early going, both squads could hit nothing. Three minutes into the contest, the score was tied at four.
Orlando Woolridge, the NBA's third-leading scorer entering the contest, hit a pair of jump shots for the Bulls, and the Washington scores came from Robinson and Frank Johnson.
Things picked up briefly over the next three minutes. With 6:16 remaining in the opening period, the Bullets led by 12-9, with Robinson, Johnson and Dan Roundfield each scoring four points.
At the 5:51 mark, Manute Bol blocked his first shot of the evening, rejecting Woolridge. Eight seconds later, Robinson converted a jumper. The play brought some life into the quiet crowd at Chicago Stadium, and the noise level increased dramatically when Bol blocked another shot by Woolridge.
Undaunted, the high-flying forward made a third run at Bol, this time trying a slam dunk. The Bullets' rookie center fouled Woolridge on the attempt, but 10 seconds after Woolridge converted two free throws, Bol outdid him with a three-point play, scoring on a dunk and adding a free throw when a foul was called on the play.
That was the extent of the excitement in the quarter, which ended with the Bullets ahead by 24-15 and the Chicago fans loudly letting their displeasure be known.
Johnson was the leading scorer in the period with seven points. Woolridge had eight for the Bulls, who shot only 27 percent in the opening 12 minutes. The Bullets shot 50 percent and committed eight turnovers.
Gus Williams and Kenny Green combined to get the Bullets off to a good start in the second quarter.
Williams scored on a nice reverse layup, then fed Green a lob pass that led to an easy basket, putting Washington up by 28-17 with 10 minutes to play in the half.
Williams' efforts were matched by Dailey, who scored six straight points for his team.
But the Bullets maintained a nine-point lead, 32-23, with 6:46 remaining in the first half.
Chicago made a brief run from that point, outscoring the Bullets by 8-4 to cut their deficit to five, 36-31, with 2:36 left. Washington responded with four consecutive free throws by Robinson.
The forward got another two attempts after a Woolridge dunk. Making one of two, he put the Bullets ahead by 41-33 with 1:24 left. The half ended with Washington up by 45-35.
Woolridge led all scorers in the first half with 12 points but hit only four of 13 shots.
That reflected the marksmanship of the Bulls, who connected on only 31 percent of their shots from the field.
Robinson finished the half with 11 points for Washington, which also had 14 turnovers, just three fewer than its average over a full 48 minutes.
In the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, the Bullets raised their lead to 55-44. Jeff Malone hit on a pair of long jumpers for Washington in the early going.
Robinson began to make his presence felt, hitting a jumper at the 7:31 mark, then converting a three-point play to make the score 58-44 with 6:57 to play in the period.
The Bullets made it a 15-point lead, 63-48, with 4:46 to play on a Green layup, then increased it to 17 when Robinson hit a jumper at the 4:05 mark.
Although he hadn't scored since his early three-point play, Bol was nevertheless a factor, blocking seven shots up to that point.
One player whose shot Bol failed to block was George Gervin. The spindly guard scored 10 straight points for the Bulls during one stretch of the period's final 3:45. The effort, along with a dunk by Charles Oakley with five seconds to play, brought the Bulls back within nine points, 69-60, at the end of three quarters. Robinson led Washington in the period with seven.
The Bullets announced yesterday that Saturday's game with the Los Angeles Lakers in Capital Centre is sold out. Cavaliers 109, Knicks 105
Mel Turpin scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and World B. Free added 28 points to lead Cleveland in New York.
Free scored his team's last eight points, all from the free throw line, and Turpin connected on his first 12 shots from the field before finishing at 13 for 15.
The Cavaliers led by as many as nine points three times in the game, but the Knicks closed within 96-95 on Patrick Ewing's dunk with 4:09 left. Then Roy Hinson hit a jumper and John Bagley sank a three-point shot to put the game out of reach.
Turpin finished with 19 points, going nine for nine from the field in the first half and powering Cleveland to a 57-53 halftime lead.
The Knicks trailed by 27-22 at 2:48 in the first quarter but gained a 34-29 advantage 1:44 into the next period with a 12-2 spurt.
Ewing paced New York with 28 points and had 15 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute of the game, and Louis Orr added 22 points. Bagley had 16 points for Cleveland and Hinson 12. Mavericks 120, Hawks 108
Rolando Blackman scored 31 points and started a 12-point, fourth-quarter surge that gave Dallas the victory in Atlanta.
The Mavericks took the lead for good when Blackman's basket gave them a 91-90 advantage with 10:41 remaining. Dallas then scored 10 more points, increasing its lead to 101-90 on Detlef Schrempf's pair of free throws with 7:57 left.
Dominique Wilkins led Atlanta with 29 points, including 12 in a 14-4 run in the third quarter that helped the Hawks erase a 12-point halftime deficit.
Sam Perkins added 23 for Dallas, and Schrempf had 16.
Eddie Johnson scored 14 for Atlanta, and Kevin Willis had 14, Doc Rivers 13, and Cliff Levingston and Jon Koncak 11 each.