Dick Motta says he has never seen anything like it "in 10 years of NBA coaching and that covers an awful lot of games and crazy situations."
Bob Dandridge is so perplexed by what's happened that he's stopped searching for reasons. "But maybe," he said, "our personnel just isn't really any better than a lot of teams who are supposed to be worse than we are."
And Mitch Kupchak is concerned that fans are becoming so disgusted with what they are seeing "they are abandoning us just when we need them the most."
Creating all this turmoil is the stunning late-season home-court collapse of the Washington Bullets, who have turned what should have been an easy final week of the regular schedule into a team crisis.
The Bullets have lost five of their last seven home games - four to clubs under .500 - after compiling one of the six best home-court records in the NBA over the first 4 1/2 months of the schedule.
As a result, their 41-36 record isn't good enough to clinch one of the six playoff berths in the Eastern Conference, although one victory in their last five games, or a loss by Atlanta, would extend their season.
Things are so tight in the struggle for the last four spots in the conference playoff race - Philadelphia and San Antonio already have berths clinched - that the Bullets could realistically finish as low as fifth, behind New York and Cleveland, unless they end strongly.
And it's going to be a difficult for them to finish with a flourish. They have to play the Knicks in Capital Centre today at 1:45 p.m. without Elvin Hayes, who is attending his grandmother's funeral. Then they host streaking Los Angeles Wednesday before road games at Boston and Philadelphia and the season final at the Centre next Sunday against the 76ers.
That is by far the toughest schedule of the contending Eastern teams, especially since the Bullets no longer are benefiting from any home-court advantage.
A victory over New York would ease Washington's situation considerably. Even if the Knicks went on to take their last four contests, the Bullets would have to win one other game to secure third. The reason: Washington would have won the season series between the teams, 3-1, which would break any playoff ties.
New York, whose hopes of finishing third seemed over after losing to the Bullets Thursday in Madison Square Garden, revitalized their chances by winning at New Orleans Friday while Washington was falling to Cleveland.
The Knicks (39-38) are two games behind Washington and have games left after today with Atlanta and Detroit at home before finishing on the road against Kansas City and Buffalo, two of the league's nonpowers.
Cleveland (38-39), which hosted Detroit last night, has home contests against Buffalo and tough Milwaukee before also ending on the road with games at Atlanta and Kansas City.
A third- or fourth-place finish by Washington would guarantee a home-court advantage in the first-round playoff series.
"We look great one night and the next, who knows," said Motta. "We couldn't win on the road earlier in the year and now we've won three straight. Then we turn around and can't win anthing at home."
There are as many theories about what is wrong with the Bullets as there are players, coaches and fans who care about them. Talk about shaking up the franchise, which usually begins after the club is knocked out of the playoffs, already is starting, although in some games Washington looks as strong as any club in the league.
"When our backs are to the wall, we usually win," said Dandridge, "but then we ease up, lose and it's another crisis. Things just don't seem to be jelling like they should be."
The more Washington struggles, the worse attendance at Capital Centre becomes. The Bullets have had only one crowd of more than 9,492 in the last eight games there, and team officials admit that the one exception - 17,252 for Boston - was because of John Havlicek's retirement farewell."