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Riding the Bullets Bench March

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Heat Is High As Overtime Proves Unkind To Bullets

7 March 1997. Miami Heat 108, Washington Bullets 105 (OT) (record: 28-32)
Game leaders: Howard, Strickland (28 points), Muresan (10 rebounds), Strickland (5 assists)

Talk about a game of runs, the Heat outscoring the Bullets by 20 points in the second quarter (35-15), only to get outscored by 20 by the Bullets in the fourth quarter (29-9). But that's not how you win games, trying to come back like that. (Not to say that it wasn't fun to watch the game in the end, after such a depressing first three quarters.)

The second quarter was so frustrating for the Bullets that Bickerstaff got himself tossed from the game. It still didn't inspire the Bullets to play good ball. They closed a 21-point halftime deficit to as little as 11 points in the third, but the Heat continually rebuilt their lead.

Then the Bullets woke up.

They forced turnovers. They hit open shots. They rebounded well. They played solid man-to-man defense and forced bad shots. They held the Heat scoreless for nearly 7-1/2 minutes and used a 25-4 run to take a 1-point lead. However, Howard and Cheaney each missed a free throw in the closing seconds, and the game went to overtime.

Which brings us to why the Bullets lost this game. Free throws. The Heat made 26 of 30, while the Bullets only made 24 of 35. That's one area where the Bullets lost the game during regulation. Not just Howard's missed free throw with 1.4 seconds left that would have broken the tie (and given the Heat a chance to win), but during the rest of the game. Particularly bad were Juwan (6 of 10) and Muresan (0 of 3).

So, the Bullets lose an eminently winnable game. However, congratulations should go to Tim Hardaway for scoring a career-high 45 points, passing the 10,000-point mark for his career, and for earning a $500,000 bonus with the Heat's 45th victory; that bonus helped send Juwan back to the Bullets.

Tonight was also the final broadcast for long-time Bullets (and HTS) broadcaster Mel Proctor, who is heading to San Diego for another announcing opportunity. For those of us who watched him, I think we will miss his play-by-play announcing skills.

wtf 13 March 1997

<== Bullets Put The Hurt On The Heat With A Big Comeback Bullets Are Deep Sixered By The Philly Starters  ==>

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