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NBA Notes : Bullets Face Long Spell Away From Home

February 14, 1988|KENT McDILL | United Press International

Starting Feb. 10 in Cleveland, Washington faced 10 of 11 games on the road because an ice show is performing at the Capital Centre.

The Bullets, 9-17 before Kevin Loughery was fired, were 10-7 by Feb. 11 under Unseld, who was named January's NBA Coach of the Month and recently was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Bernard King, the former NBA scoring champ who was signed as a free agent from the New York Knicks prior to the season, is largely responsible for the Bullets' resurgence. Loughery used King as the sixth man, but Unseld has the forward starting.

With center Moses Malone sidelined for a week with a chipped bone in his left wrist sustained in Sunday's All-Star game and guard Jeff Malone out with an eye irritation caused by his contact lens, King recorded a season high of 34 points against New Jersey Tuesday night at home to up his season scoring average to 20.8 points, best on the team.

King, no stranger to weak teams after spending parts of his career with the Golden State Warriors and Knicks, knows Washington must catch fire if the team hopes to make the playoffs.

"We have to play well. The season is here and now. If we're going to get to the playoffs, we have to do it now," King said.

Manute Bol, the 7-foot-6 shoot-blocking specialist, is starting in place of Moses Malone and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds in his first start against New Jersey. Bol, who averages only 17 minutes per game, is still fourth in the NBA in blocked shots with 3.08 per game.

On the other end of the measuring stick, 5-foot-3 rookie guard Tyrone Bogues has had his problems but still leads the team in assists despite starting only about one-fourth of the time. Journeyman Steve Colter is the Bullets' starting playmaker, but rarely plays more than more than 15 minutes per game. Frank Johnson, who has started 15 games at point guard, split the remainder of the time with Bogues.

Johnson made the first start at shooting guard in his seven-year NBA career Feb. 9 and responded with a season-best 23 points against the Nets.

During Rolando Blackman's recent absence from the Dallas Mavericks with a knee injury, rookie Jim Farmer from the University of Alabama received more playing time and it has begun to pay off.

Farmer played a career-high 11 minutes Feb. 9 against Utah in a blowout and scored a career high 8 points.

"It's been awhile since I've had quality minutes," Farmer said. "I just tried to adjust and fit into the game. You want to get in there and impress the coaches, but you still have to stay within yourself."

Farmer was 4 of 6 in the outing.

From the "You can never figure out the NBA department" ... In Utah's first trip to Dallas this season (on opening night), Derek Harper had to hit a 3-point shot at the final buzzer to give the Mavericks a 95-93 win.

On Utah's next trip, Dallas had its most one-sided win of the season and Utah its most one-sided loss -- 124-93.

The accolades for NBA All-Star Game MVP Michael Jordan continued into mid-week. Gordon's Gin named Jordan the Black Athlete of 1987 and gave him an award before the Bulls played Tuesday night against Detroit.

One of the unsung All-Star heroes was Chicago Bulls' trainer Mark Pfiel, who was the trainer for the East squad.

"It was my first time and it kept me very busy all weekend," Pfiel said. "But I really enjoyed myself. There were no problems or new injuries of any kind. The older players in the Legends game used a lot of liniment. But they were all in good shape."

The highlight for Pfiel. "Seeing Jordan win the slam-dunk and the MVP."

While the hundreds of reporters covering the NBA All-Star game were watching the exploits of Michael Jordan, Mark Aguirre of Dallas was trying to survive the busiest weekend of his life.

Aguirre was given a bachelor party Friday, got married Saturday and then played 12 minutes in the All-Star game Sunday. He managed to score 14 points, although he missed his first couple of shots.

"I really didn't care," he said. "I mean, I loved playing in the game. But it was more important for me to be with my family and friends. It's more important for me to be recognized by them as an All-Star. I just wanted to enjoy all the people.

"The minute I got into town Friday, all I did was run around. By the time I got the wedding license and everything else, I only got four hours of sleep on Friday night."

Here's the NBA playoff update. If the season ended Feb. 9, the Eastern Conference would have the six Central Division teams and Boston and Philadelphia from the Atlantic Division in the playoffs. As long as all the Central Division teams stay at or above the .500 mark, they will probably make the playoffs.

In the Western Conference, the Lakers, Portland and Seattle would be in from the Pacific and Dallas, Denver, Houston, Utah and San Antonio from the Midwest. The Spurs are on the bubble but Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State and the L.A. Clippers would have to get on a roll to catch them.

Despite their improvement under new coach Wes Unseld, the Washington Bullets are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1982-83 season. The Bullets, who own the ninth best record in the Eastern Conference, are battling with the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final playoff spot.

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