The Bullets play the New Jersey Nets for the last time this season today, and no one is happier about that than Washington Coach Dick Motta.
Motta has had to work extra hard against the Nets in the first three meetings, because New Jersey's combination defenses seem to give the Bullets more trouble than any strategy they encounter.
"We just don't play against zones enough, and New Jersey plays a zone," said Motta about his 1:45 p.m. opponent in Capital Centre (WTOP-1500). 'They get away with it because the refs see fit not to call it.
"Just once in my 10 years in this league I'd like to see the rules called as they are written in the book. We are hypocrites, ignoring things like we do."
The Nets did everything but beat Washington Friday night in New Jersey. They led by 10 points early in the fourth period before the Bullets came back behind Bobby Dandridge to pull out the contest, 107-104. Washington also defeated the Nets earlier in New Jersey, but the Nets shocked the Bul- lets at the Capital Centre in December when Kevin Porter scored 30 points and had 17 assists.
New Jersey gives away height and strength inside to Washington, so Coach Kevin Loughery feels he has to rely on combination defenses to slow the Bullets and make them work for their shots.
New Jersey's half-court zone trap worked so well Friday night that when the Bullets didn't turn the ball over (they had 25 turnovers for the game), they wound up setting up their offense with only 10 seconds or less left on the 24-second clock. The result was a lot of hurried shots, mostly from the outside.
"Twenty-four seconds doesn't give you enough time to work the ball properly against a good zone," said Motta. "That's why if they are going to allow a zone, then let's put in a three-point, 30-foot circle and reward outside shooting. You have to have some weapon that will make the zone a gamble and a three-point basket would help."
Motta wound up switching his defensive matchups Friday night to confuse the Nets. He put Dandridge on guard John Williamson and Elvin Hayes on rookie forward Bernard King and neutralized New Jersey's best shooters in the final minutes. He admitted that he might use the same tactics today.