Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Washington Bullets hobbled out of here in the somewhat odd position of having to root last night for their 111-107 conquerors of Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls cut the Bullet lead over New York for No. 3 playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; the Knicks are tonight's Chicago Stadium visitors.
"I've got to root for the Bulls," said Bullet (and ex-Bull) Coach Dick Motta. "Now we're only one ahead of them (Knicks) in the loss column." The Bullets have 31 losses, the Knicks 32.
While the Bulls, anxious just to shoehorn into the playoffs, take on the Knicks, the limping Bullets will be back in Capital Centre for an 8:05 game with the lowly Indiana pacers.
"They (the Pacers) may look soft," Motta said, "but I think I'm beginning to feel more like a nurse than a coach."
Forward Bob Dandridge injured his knee again, but managed to play most of the game. He had to because Wes Unseld incurred five fouls in the first half and sat out most of the second and Elvin Hayes, who eventually fouled out, picked up his fifth in the third quarter.
To add to the woes, Kevin Grevey hobbled to the dressing room and his right ankle was wrapped in ice. "I turned it pretty bad," said the Bullet guard.
"He recovers pretty quickly," Motta said. "At least I hope he will this time. I'm pretty bad off for guards.
"Tom Henderson shouldn't have been in there as much as he was, either, tonight. He hurt his tendon in his shoulder. So I don't know what's going to happen. We're pretty thin."
The foul problems and a career-high 27 points by Chicago substitute guard John Mengelt beat the Bullets.
The Bulls halted a losing streak at four games and pulled within two games of the Milwaukee Bucks for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"It's going to be a struggle to get in there," said Chicago Coach Ed Badger, who was assistant to Motta here, "but let me tell you, once we do, I think we're gonna go all the way. I really do . . . mark my words."
If the Bulls get into the playoffs it will be a struggle; even with Unseld and Hayes on the bench, the Bullets gave Chicago all it could handle, never letting it kick the game out of reach.
"They really protect that (Artis) Gilmore pretty good," said Motta of the 7-foot-2 Bull. "He goes to the freethrow line an awful lot. They (the officials) took our center game away from us tonight.
"We need Unseld in there to win."
Hefty Unseld got back into the game in the final few minutes, but it was Mitch Kupchak's shooting down the stretch that almost pulled the Bullets in. And a missed layup by Charlie Johnson that didn't.
The Bulls were in front, 108-99, when Kupchak, who totaled 19 points, started his spree. His three straight baskets cut the score to 108-105.
Johnson then stole the ball, went the length of the floor and blew the layup.
After a Bull free throw by Norm Van Lier, Kupchak made two more baskets - giving him the Bullets' last 10 of the night.
"We thougt we had a chance to win the game," Motta said. "We know they get tight elbows down the stretch in close games, but we missed a lot of chances, too."
After Kupchak's last field goal, with 14 seconds left and the score 109-107, Washington had two shots, missing both.
Perhaps the biggest contributors to the upset were Mengelt, who scored 15 of his points coming on in relief in the second quarter, and rookie forward Mark Landsberger.
All-in-all, it was on the boards that Washington lost, collecting only 32 rebounds to Chicago's 52.
Grevey had a hot hand until he limped off the court, scoring 20 points. Bob Dandridge, bad knee and all, made 23. Despite his bad shoulder, Henderson had 19.