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Mavs And Bullets Shoot Blanks Before A Wild Finale
18 March 1997. Washington Bullets 86, Dallas Mavericks 85 (record: 32-34)
Game leaders: Webber (20 points), Howard (14 rebounds), Strickland (5 assists)
This game was an ugly affair. The Bullets were down big, up big, then down again in the fourth. They scratch back, then need a miracle on a wacky play to win - and they get it.
The Bullets struggled early. They scored only 16 points in the first quarter and 17 points in the second. Fortunately, the Mavs were struggling also and could only build a 4-point halftime lead. The Bullets only shot 33 percent in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Bullets roar back. They score 31 points and lead by 4 after 3 quarters. But the Mavs wouldn't die. They eventually took a 75-67 lead with 5 minutes left before more heroics by the Bullets got the game close and set up a wild ending.
The Bullets were not without their injury scares. Webber landed hard on his right side after a fast break layup and did not get up for a couple of minutes. He did return to the game later. However, Rod Strickland took a vicious elbow from Sean Bradley late in the game as Bradley swung his elbows after a rebound. (See a Quicktime or AVI video of the incident.) Strickland was down for several minutes before leaving the court with an injury under his left eye. His status is not known at moment.
The Bradley foul was key, because he fouled out on it. And he wasn't there to try and block Cheaney's lay-up and winning points with 1.5 seconds left in the game. But that set up the oddest play of the night. (See a Quicktime or AVI video of the play.) Harper inbounds the ball off Cheaney's back, gets it back, dribbles to the 3-point line and launches a beautiful shot that goes into the basket, but rattles back out at the last possible moment.
And the Bullets escape with the victory, their fifth straight road victory. They have won 4 of their last 5 games. Now, they get a night off before completing the Texas triangle in Houston.
wtf 19 March 1997
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