The Bullets play one of their most important games of the season tonight against the Central Division leading Spurs in San Antonio.

Washington played Houston in the road last night and a win there plus a victory over the Spurs would pull the Bullets within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio with a month left in the season.

Washington has beaten San Antonio twice, both times at Capital Centre, but the Spurs overwhelmed the Bullets, 129 - 109, Jan. 31 in San Antonio. That defeat began a Bullet road trip that saw them lose six of seven contests and fall seven games behind the Spurs in the division race.

Bullets Coach Dick Motta feels the key to beating San Antonio will be how well his club controls every Spur but George Gervin.

"Gervin is going to get his points," said Motta. "We have to make sure the other people don't have a big night, I don't think Gervin alone can beat us."

In San Antonio's only victory over Washington this season, Gervin had 33 points, Larry Kenon 26 and guard Mike Gale 16, a season-high. Kenon had only 14 points in the Bullets' 115 - 110 triumph March 1 at Capital Centre.

The other major part of Washington's game plan is to make Gervin work on defense. Kevin Grevey scored 29 points off Gervin in Washington, which Motta thought was a key factor in the victory.

"George tries to stay cool out there all the time and it backfires on him," said Grevey. "You can outhustle him. It's hard to stop him when he wants to score so you have to do some damage against him at the other end."

The game should feature good shooting, judging by the other meetings between the clubs this season. In losing to Washington in November, San Antonio shot 51 percent. The Spurs increased that percentage to 53 in their January victory while Washington made 53 percent of its shots March 1.

"We've got to hurt them inside," said Motta. "We can run with them but I don't want an all-out run-and-gun game. We need to execute our offense, something we havebeen doing very well lately