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Riding the Bullets Bench December

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Second Half Defense Again Propels Bullets To Victory

28 December 1996. Washington Bullets 97, Atlanta Hawks 86 (record: 15-13)
Game leaders: Howard (25 points), Howard (13 rebounds), Strickland (9 assists)

Yet another tale of two halves, this one from Baltimore. In the first half, the Bullets were blitzed by Christian Laettner, who had 18 points, and trailed the Hawks by only 3 at halftime because of a putback by Harvey Grant as time expired. But, as with the previous night (when the Bullets held the Raptors to 38 second half points), the Bullets shut down the Hawks early and held them to 36 points during the second half.

What's nice is that by playing good defense, the Bullets also generate transition opportunities for themselves. And the Bullets do a much better job getting points on the break than they do in their halfcourt set. That's not to say that the Bullets can't run a halfcourt set. Rather, with Juwan Howard getting healthy and contributing again (usually around 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists a night) and Rod Strickland passing and shooting well, the team is doing a better job clicking on offense.

And tonight, at least, Gheorghe Muresan played well. (Recently, his numbers have been down and he's not getting in the flow of the game.) Muresan (18 points, 12 rebounds) got the better of his matchup with Dikembe Mutombo (6 points, 7 rebounds) tonight. And Webber was 1 rebound and 2 assists away from a triple double (20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 blocks).

This win guarantees that the Bullets will enter the new year with a winning record. It's possible, pending the results of the Bullets game against Charlotte on Monday, that they could be considered a playoff team, if the season were to end at that time. More on that later.

wtf 30 December 1996

<== Bullets Rip Raptors In Second Half Bullets Get Buzzed By Stinging Hornets As Rice Cooks  ==>

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