If the Washington Bullets are to overtake the Houston Rockets in the final two weeks of the National Basketball Association season, they badly need to beat the Spurs tonight in San Antonio.
The Rockets, with seven games remaining lead the Bullets by 2 1/2 games. They play the Golden State Warriors tonight in Oakland.
The Spurs, third in the division, are games behind the Bullets.
Washington missed a good chance cut the Rockets lead by a full [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Sunday. The bullets had taken [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in Boston [WORD ILLEGIBLE] at Capital Centre playing a return match with the injury-riddled Knicks.
But the Bullets were lackluster, Earl (the Pearl) Monroe scored 31 points, and New York won easily, 109-95.
The Rockets, meanwhile were beaten in Detroit by the Pistons.
"We just dug ourselves into a hole," Bullet coach Dick Motta said. "That loss to Seattle at home (March 16) and then Sunday's loss shouldn't have happened. We should have won those games. We did this to ourselves."
Elvin Hayes, the Bullets' leading scorer, who took himself out of Sunday's game in the fourth quarter because he said his elbow was stiff, said tonight's encounter with the Spurs "is a game both of us have to win.
"It'll test us," Hayes said. "It'll show what kind of team we really are because the pressure is on. We can't lose. We have to win this game." Hayes is expected to play tonight.
Center Wes Unseld said Sunday's loss was disappointing, but added that it was typical of the way things have been going for the Bullets much of the season.
"We were in a hole before Sunday," Unseld said. "We seem to always take two steps forward and then one step back."
The Bullets have eight games left, five at home. They play four games this week: following the trip to San Antonio they play the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday at Capital Centre; then comes the showdown here Friday with the Rockets, and the lowly New York Mets visit Capital Centre Sunday afternnon.
Houston's remaining schedule is not in its favor. The Rockets began a four-game road trip that with 15-point loss in Detrot Sunday. After Golden State, they stop in Seattle before coming to Capital Centre.
Even after that trip, two of their last four games are on the road, against Boston and Chicago.
If the Bullets should beat Houston Friday to even the season series at 2-2 and the two teams end the regular season tied, the team with the better record within the division would be declared the champion.
Houston now has an 11-7 division record with two division games left. The Bullets are 9-7 in the division, with four left.
Tonight's game will be Washington's fourth in five days but, according to Hayes, that won't have an adverse effect.