Memories of Bullet players must be uncommonly short. For a team that had never won a final-round NBA playoff game in its history and frittered away sizable leads against Golden State three times three years ago, the Bullets were remarkably blase before that Sonic boom Sunday.

Now the tally is 0-9 for the Bullets. If losing game one in Seattle hardly means everyone ought to go diving for panic buttons, the attitudes and actions during that 19-point Seattle turnaround were uncomfortably familiar to veteran Bullet watchers.

The Bullets outdid themselves this time. The largest lead they botched against Golden State was 14 points. But the Warriors had a Freddy Brown, one splendid shooter during those four dreaded days of May. That was Rick Barry, with 104 points.

Golden State threw away the ball more often; Washington had more turnovers at critical moments. Washington allegedly had better rebounders; the Warriors got more rebounds. Golden State's Paul Silas was named George Johnson.

And the Bullets' small forward was a no-show once again. Against Golden State, Washington had two players at the position, Mike Riordan, who was in the process of losing his jump shot, and Nick Weatherspoon, who had shot the Celtics out of the playoffs the series before.

Riordan was 14 for 38 against the Warriors and capped Bullet frustrations by trying to pick a fight with Barry early in game four. Spoon was five for 26 while offering added evidence to a theory that states: "A weak rebounding small forward is the cancer of basketball."

Though he had five assists and seven rebounds, Bobby Dandridge was a 25 percent shooter Sunday. His man for much of the game, the usually light-scoring John Johnson, had 12 more points.

Elvin Hayes made nine of 18 shots but had no assists, which means a combination of three factors was at work - Seattle was fronting him with Silas, Bullet guards could not get him the ball and Hayes did not want it very badly.

Coach Dick Motta is fond of saying: "It's my job to see that Elvin gets the ball 60 percent of the time." The Bullets got into a guard's game Sunday, which is to their disadvantage anyway, and when they needed a shooting guard in the worst possible way Kevin Grevey twisted an ankle.

The defensive inspiration - or luck - that had blessed Motta earlier against San Antonio and Philadelphia was gone in Seattle. Downtown Freddy Brown? Puget Sound Freddy Brown. And you though last year's Houston Rockets had range.

When guards became dominant earlier in the playoffs, Motta managed to find a clever way to stop them. He used Dandridge on George Gervin in the final pressure moments of a game against San Antonio - and it worked. Tom Henderson played well the second half against Doug Collins in the final-game victory over the 76ers.

Larry Wright played quite well against Lloyd Free. Motta later admitted there was luck involved there, that Wright just happened to be matched against Free early and seemed to give him problems. So the matchup continued.

Probably, that was the reason Wright was assigned to Brown late in the game Sunday. Possibly, Dandridge will prove a better choice if Brown gets unconscious again, forcing a shot already high in trajectory even higher.

That the Sonics should get 19 more rebounds than the Bullets almost defies relief. But that Silas should grab three more rebounds than anyone for Washington is, appropriately, yet another reason to celebrate his special skill.

Yes, that's singular. Silas has even less range than Wes Unseld and does not pass especially well. But when a missed shot is up for grabs at an important point in a playoff game, Silas either gets it himself or tips it to a teammate.

The Sonic bench, meaning Brown and Silas, combined for 36 points, 13 rebounds and six assists Sunday. But Brown missed more shots than he made which is some comfort as the Bullets look both forward and backward.

The best the Bullets can hope for is that they have some Tom Watson in them. For several years, Watson would have the lead in significant golf tournaments and slip out of contention in the final round.

Hardly anyone else was good enough even to be in that position so often, but Watson was stamped with the "choke" label. It was justified a few times. Then he won a British Open - and two years later a Masters in as pressurized a setting as one could imagine.

Three years ago the Bullets had Golden State down by 14 points at the half in game lone - and lost; they were ahead by six points at half-time of game two - and lost; Golden State got the lead early in game three and won in spite of 36 turnovers; the Bullets had a 14-point lead early in game four, led by three after three quarters - and lost by one.

Maybe one victory - no matter how sloppy - would do wonders for the Bullets. They have been to the finals three times in 10 years, but if they soar to a double-figure lead early in game two Thursday night at Capital Centre, the Sonics can silently insist: "We've got you right where we want you."