PHILADELPHIA, FEB. 6 -- In the face of game-long, half-court trapping, it took 3 1/2 quarters for the Washington Bullets to unravel tonight. But they did, and the usual loss to the Philadelphia 76ers resulted, 108-100, in front of 14,479 at The Spectrum.
The Bullets (20-27) lost their third straight, going cold midway through the fourth period. Philadelphia (25-20) went on a 10-0 run to take control of a game in which it trailed most of the way.
Washington provided a tonic for 76ers guard Hersey Hawkins, who had shot 27 percent from the field in his previous four games. Tonight, he was 11 of 23 and 15 of 15 from the line en route to a career-high 39 points. Charles Barkley delivered 25 points -- 14 in the last quarter -- and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia, which defeated the Bullets here for the 10th straight time.
Harvey Grant led Washington with 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, but made nary a basket after the seven-minute mark of the third quarter, which is about the last time the Bullets handled the 76ers' pressure. Bernard King shot just six of 19 in finishing with 12 points, but had eight assists. He played 35 minutes with no aftereffects from the allergic reaction that took him out of his last game, Sunday in Boston, and into the hospital.
Rookie A.J. English had his best game since joining the starting lineup, with 21 points. And Clinton Smith, signed to a 10-day contract today, played decently in his first NBA game in three seasons.
Still, "We didn't force the issue at all when they were trapping," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "Right now, we're not very good in handling that type of situation."
As for King, Unseld said: "He just had a bad night. He's entitled to have one. Just one."
"We just broke down," English said. "Things got tight and we weren't hitting the shots we hit earlier. . . . Toward the end of the game we weren't hitting the shots we were supposed to be hitting. We played a good basketball game for three quarters."
Hawkins was Philadelphia's only offense for three quarters, as Barkley, just returning from a stress fracture in his ankle, seemed to play at three-quarter speed most of the night. Though guard Byron Irvin did all he could (16 points), the Bullets lost that matchup.
"I know Byron," Hawkins said. "Byron's from Chicago. When you're going against a guy you know there's some of that mind game or that matchup where he wants to do well against you, you want to do well against him. He's a good player and I knew he would come out and try to be aggressive, look for shots. I just wanted to do the same thing against him."
Washington led most of the first half, but trailed 55-52 at intermission. Still, King hadn't gotten untracked yet and the 76ers showed no signs of shooting well.
The Bullets attacked Philadelphia's trap at the start of the third quarter with a 12-2 run. Grant was four of four from the field, and when he hit from the right lane at the 8:46 mark, Washington led by 65-57. The Bullets kept that lead for most of the rest of the quarter and led 80-76 after three.
But the 76ers kept trapping.
Washington was still ahead 86-81 early in the fourth when English hit a turnaround. But the Bullets scored only two points in the next five minutes. They didn't throw the ball away much. It was just a couple of small mistakes here and there, plus the ominous presence of Manute Bol (season-high 11 rebounds, five blocks) at the back of the Philadelphia trap.
"His arms are so long," said Irvin, who found out the hard way. "You can take a jumper and not know he's coming. He will block it. He'll block 15-foot jump shots."
"When a team traps you the entire game," Hawkins said, "sooner or later it wears on you. We wanted an up-tempo game, let them take quick shots, and they played into our hands."
Barkley, isolated on Mark Alarie, got fouled. The 76ers took an 89-88 lead on a Ron Anderson basket, and scored 12 of the next 14, half on layins, for a 101-90 lead.
Once again, English played 40 minutes. Irvin played 24 and only foul trouble kept him from more. Grant went 43 minutes.
"We've got a young team," Grant said, "and they're not used to playing that many minutes. It kind of wears a person down."