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Bullets Look, Play Different As They Run By Cavs
11 December 1996. Washington Bullets 106, Cleveland Cavaliers 95 (record: 8-11)
Game leaders: Howard (25 points), Webber (11 rebounds), Webber (7 assists)
What a difference a day makes. I don't know what was said or eaten on that charter flight back from the previous night's mauling the the Knicks, but it worked. The Bullet moved the ball reasonably well, played good defense, outrebounded their first opponent in many games (33 to 29), and even avoided folding under pressure.
Howard getting off to a fast start didn't hurt. He got good looks against Cavs' small forward Chris Mills and scored consistently. Webber was also in the game with 23 points, and Tracy Murray continues his hot shooting with 14 points. Even Strickland woke up enough to get 16 points. (Though Terrell Brandon got hot in the 2nd half and finished with 28 points.)
The Bullets didn't hold the Cavs under 50% shooting (52.3%), they did force 22 turnovers, which they converted into 29 points. Key was that the Bullets controlled the tempo of the game and were able to become on the second team this season to score over 100 points against the Cavs (who hold opponents to an average of 80 ppg).
One of the keys is that the Bullets didn't allow the Cavs many uncontested 3-point shots off the pick-and-roll. The Cavs have used that play in the past to kill the Bullets. This time, the Bullets switched off, even if it meant that Chris Whitney was guarding Danny Ferry in the post. And you know what? Ferry still had troubles posting Whitney up.
This win, in large part, against belongs to the reserves. With the starters in, the Bullets built a small lead in the 1st quarter and gave up most of a large lead in the 3rd quarter. It was the reserves that were able to dial up the pressure, prevent the Cavs from scoring, and score outside points for the Bullets. Which leads me to my constant question--why not get the 3-point shooters in there sooner? Murray has earned more playing time, over Harvey Grant. Murray is even hustling and playing defense.
This is a good win to get under the Bullets' belts. Now, it's one last home game against the Nuggets (a horrible defensive team), and then a 6-game road trip in the Western Conference before the holiday break. I feel so much happier now with a win like last night's.
wtf 12 December 1996
|Neither Team Shoots Well, But Knicks Get The Win||Bullets Find Gold In The Nuggets|