Dick Motta, who has professed love for the late stages of a close basketball game, feels his team should not lose if it goes into the last two minutes with the score at least tied.

The Washington Bullets are killing the last-minute thrill for Motta.

The struggling Bullets have lost five in a row and each time they have been in the game going into the final minute.

The latest defeat, a 100-96 loss at the hands of the Seattle Supersonics Wednesday night at Capital Centre, was typical of recent Bullet performances. The only difference was that this one was at home while the other four NBA losses were on the road.

The defeat left the Bullets' record at 39-30 and dropped them into third place in the Central Division. Going into last ngiht's contests, they were three games behind the streaking Houston Rockets and trailed the San Antonio Spurs by a half game.

While three games is a lot to make up at this point in the season, the remaining schedule favors the Bullets. Washington has 13 games left, eight at home and five away. The Bullets have two more games with San Antonio and one more with Houston.

The Rockets, winners of eight straight going into last night's game with Cleveland, have commenced a rought stretch of 11 games in 15 days. Houston has 15 games left, with six at home and nine away. The Rockets play Washington, Philadelphia and San Antonio one more time each.

San Antonio has 14 games left, seven at home and seven away. Two of them are with the Bullets, two with the 76ers and one with Houston.

Motta said he was disappointed in the Bullets' weak performance against Seattle and said they looked tired.

He gave them yesterday off and said he will work them hard today and Saturday in preparation for Sunday's showdown with San Antonio.

Motta said he could stomach the last-minute losses at Golden State and Kansas City, but found Wednesday's hard to swallow.

Three of the last four baskets the Sonics scored came on second shots.

Elvin Hayes jammed his thumb Tuesday against Kansas City and didn't start against Seattle. He still played 34 minutes and grabbed 19 rebounds. He missed 11 of 15 shots, however.

Hayes is expected to start against San Antonio Sunday.

In addition to pursuing the teams in their own division, the Bulets would also like to end the regular season with a better record than Philadelphia, the likely Atlantic Division winner.

Under a new NBA playoff format, the two division winners and the four other teams with the best records in the conference will be seeded for the playoffs. The team with the better won-lost record would have the home court advantage in any playoff series. Consequently, the division-winning team with the best record would always have the home-court advantage in the conference playoffs.

Philadelphia has 14 games left, seven at home and seven away. Two of them are with the Bullets, two with San Antonio and one with Houston.

If the playoffs were to start now, the Bullets would play Cleveland in a three-game series, with the winner meeting Houston in the next round.

San Antonio would play Boston for the right to meet Philadelphia.