Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
The Washington Bullets' two-week plunge from the top of the NBA's Central Division reached new depths last night, when they played their most inept game of the season.
Against a Boston Celtic team that is struggling, the Bullets didn't hustle and didn't rebound and shot only 39 percent. The Celtics won easily, 116-94.
Washington doesn't play again until Tuesday and rarely has a team welcomed even this sort of a vacation.
"Maybe it will do everyone good to get away and get his head clear," said Elvin Hayes. He and Kevin Grevey were the only Bullets who played decently.
The break also might help the club find its missing offense. Last night, the Bullets rarely went beyond the first option on any of their plays, instead freelancing the first one who touched the ball shooting. They were fortunate to produce even 94 points.
Part of the problem, obviously, is the missing scoring punch that had been provided by the injured Mitch Kupchak and Phil Chenier. But, as Coach Dick Motta put it, "That doesn't mean we have to stop hustling or forget everything we've been taught."
Motta lamented not getting any spark or points from his bench. The club desperately needs a practice to work on its offense, he said.
"But I can excuse offensive breakdowns," he added. "I can't excuse defensive lapses. That comes from here," he pointed to his heart. "We have to start acting like a wounded animal in the wilderness fighting for survival. We're wounded and we've got to bounce back."
Motta tried scolding his players after Thursday night's lopsided loss in Cleveland. He said he was anxious to see what his harsh words would produce last night. He found out in the first half when the Bullets were unable to take advantage of the Celtics' 35 percent shooting and trailed by five at intermission.
The defeat dropped Washington's record to 26-23 and left it 4 1/2 games behind San Antonio. The Bullets have lost three straight games, eight of their last 10, and their winless streak on the road now has reached eight. And they must play games at Golden State, Seattle, Phoenix and Denver before their next home game Feb. 16.
"Everyone is pressing," said Bob Dandridge, who had eight points, the first time he has not scored in double figures in 33 games. "I know I'm tired, too, because we haven't had much time off, and I think we all are tired.
"We're taking bad shots and we're not executing the offense. I don't think we've run three or four of our plays in two weeks because they require more energy than we seem willing to expend."
"We also need to have our roles better defined. I don't know exactly what they want out of me and I'm sure the others are confused too."
The Celtics once were confused about what they were doing. But under new Coach Tom Sanders, they seem to have at least begun to solve that problem. Especially forward Sidney Wicks.
The Boston gunners opened up in the third period. They shot to a nine-point lead on Wicks' fast-break layup, a bad pass by Wes Unseld that Havlicek turned into a basketball and a flying layup by Tom Boswell.