Wizards, Bullets, Kings and A King Share Road Losing History
[People joked how Saturday’s win in Washington over the Celtics was a road game, but Andray Blatche found some friendly fans courtside to celebrate with after the game … I doubt he’ll get the same reception from Spike Lee in Madison Square Garden tonight.]
The most losses an NBA team has achieved in an 82-game NBA schedule?
The 1990-91 Sacramento Kings went 1-40 on the road … the 2010-11 Washington Wizards are halfway there, in the loss column at least.
But as history is, well, history … the one road win for those Kings came against the Washington Bullets in Landover, MD on November 20, 1990. The zinger is that the 34-year old Bernard King had 45 points that night, but the Bullets fell 87-82 — they played in front of a reported 6,105 fans at the Capital Centre (from Sam Davis’ game report in the Baltimore Sun).
Only two other Bullets scored in double figures, Darrell Walker had 10 and Harvey Grant had 14. The rest of the team pitched in a whole 13 points, seven from the bench. On the Kings’ side, the late Wayman Tisdale led five Sacramento players in double figures — including Lionel Simmons (14), Travis Mays (13), Rory Sparrow (11), and Antoine Carr had 15 points off the bench.
King, the player, achieved his 45 points without even making a three-pointer, going 18-30 from the field and 9-16 from the free-throw line.
After their road win against the Bullets, which was only in the eighth game of that season, the Sacramento Kings lost 43 straight road games before beating the Orlando Magic on November 23, 1991. Oh yea, Dick Motta was the coach of those ’90-91 Kings (and the ’91-92 team) … the very same coach who led the Bullets to their only NBA championship in 1977-78.
Milton Kent of the Baltimore Sun had a great column after that fateful game, ‘Bullet commoners can’t keep up with King.’ Read the whole thing, but here are the key excerpts:
It only seemed as though Bernard King popped the popcorn, toasted the hot dog buns, sold the pennants and locked up the Capital Centre when he was done last night.
Maybe if he had, the Washington Bullets might have held off the Sacramento Kings, and denied them their first win of the year in eight tries.
“We did everything but score points,” said Washington coach Wes Unseld. “When you hold a team to 87 points, you should win that game.”
That would be true if someone other than King had a road map to the basket. During the only period in which King took a prolonged rest, namely the second, the Bullets proceeded to score an all-time team low nine points.
“This is very hard to swallow,” said forward Harvey Grant, who scored 14 points. “It’s a game we could have won and should have won. We’re all professionals and we get paid large amounts of money to play and the intensity should be there every night.”
Ah, intensity. That’s the missing link. How else to explain a 12-for-23 free throw shooting night or how King, Grant and Darrell Walker (10 points and 13 rebounds) were the only players in double figures or even seemed to know how to score.
It is not a pretty situation that King finds himself in. Until Ledell Eackles and John Williams are healthy enough to play, he is the only bankable, fourth-quarter dependable player the hapless Bullets (2-7) have.
See? Isn’t history fun? Aren’t you glad the franchise isn’t in that rebuilding project? That’s what I thought.
The New York Knicks are favored anywhere from 7.5 to 8 points tonight.
[John Wall is given some attention from young Celtics fans sitting courtside after going into the first row for an errant ball on Saturday night.]