Disgruntled at blowing a game to the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, the Washington Bullets now face their two toughest foes on a four-game road trip.
Washington plays the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night (WTOP-TV-9, in progress at 11:30 p.m.) at the Forum and the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
The Bullets haven't been able to beat the Lakers this season in three attempts.
The Bullets Central Division lead was cut to a half game over the Houston Rockets and they now find themselves in an almost must-win situation every time out.
They have won 26 of their last 35 games, but have lost two of their last four and three in a row on the road.
The 109-107 defeat at the hands of the Bucks was one that had a number of Bullets pointing a finger at each other.
Trailing by two points, Washington had the ball out of bounds at midcourt with 10 seconds left and didn't even get a shot.
"There is no excuse for that," coach Dick Motta said.
Mitch Motta said.
Mitch Kupchak was chosen to inbound the ball, with his first option being to try to get it to Bill Chenier.
The Bucks had Chenier covered, so Kupchak threw the ball to Elvin Hayes at the foul line.
Hayes passed the ball to a surprised Wes Unseld. Unseld jumped to shoot, but, with Swen Nater leaping out at him, changed his mind and tried to force the ball back to Hayes. Quinn Buckner batted it away and then ran the ball down in the corner near the Bullet bench. Before he tumbled out, he threw the ball off Kupchak's leg out of bounds to retain position for the Bucks.
Motta said Hayes should have taken the shot. Hayes said Unseld should have taken it. Unseld said he never should have been passed the ball in that situation.
Washington lost a one-point game in Atlanta last week when a similar in-bounds play didn't work.
"We were tight," Hayes said after the Milwaukee game. "We didn't run or anything. We needed this game, too. It was the first game on the road trip and we needed it to get off to a good start.
"This is ridiculous," Hayes continued. "You can't let bottom-division teams beat you like that. We got beat by Atlanta and Milwaukee. We lost two like that now and it's hurting us. You can't get them back."
Once again, the Kevin Greley-Leonard Gray small-forward combine wasn't particularly effective. Between them, they made only four of 15 shots and got five rebounds. As a result, Kupchak played that position much of the game and scored 18 points and had nine rebounds.
The Lakers are cruising with the second-best record in the league. They are led, of course, by 7 - foot - 2 Kareem Abdul - Jabbar. He is second in the league in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and first in field-goal percentage.
His supporting cast includes Cazzie Russell, Don Ford, Lucius Allen and Don Chaney.
The Lakers have greatly missed the muscle of former American University star Kermit Washington , who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Washington came off the bench with rebounding and superior inside play as a sixth man for the Lakers. The new man in that role is rookie Earl Tatum. Unlike Washington, he comes out firing.