Bullet Coach Dick Motta feels he's caught in the middle during this exhibition season. He'd like to win a game, but he'd also like to get a good look at his younger players, even if it means breaking up his team's continuity.
The result has been five straight preseason defeats including last night's 94-88 loss to the New York Knicks in the first game of a double-header here at the Spectrum. But Motta says people would be foolish to attach that much importance to the club's current fortunes.
"We've got a decision to make (about squad cuts) and we've got some problems," he said. "Maybe I should be playing the young guys more and maybe I shouldn't. I've put guys in during the middle of streaks, stuff like that.
"It looks like some of our guys are out of shape. We started playing games at the wrong time. We were just getting where we should have been and then we haven't had but one practice in more than a week."
So Motta, who wasn't totally delighted with the Bullets' effort last night, will hold practice for his players today.
"We need some practice," said guard Kevin Grevey. "Thank goodness for exhibitions. We've been on cloud nine since winning the title, and these games will help to bring us down to earth."
Elvin Hayes, who is playing impressively, poured in 21 points for Washington while Greg Ballard added 16. The only other Bullets in double figures were Mitch Kupchak (12) and Wes Unseld (11).
Rookies Roger Phegley (three points) and Dave Corzine (0) each played fewer than 10 minutes. Another rookie, Lawrence Boston, who has done well so far, was used for only four minutes.
Motta showed his displeasure with the team on a number of occasions. One time, he screamed when no one called a timeout despite his pleading from the sidelines. Another time, Corzine didn't check into the game fast enough and Motta had to leave Hayes in longer than necessary.
The Knicks, of course, had more reason to play harder. They have a young team full of folks trying to win spots. Coach Willis Reed still is trying to determine a cohesive starting lineup.
Last night, he began with an eye-catching front line of Marvin Webster at center and Spencer Haywood and Bob McAdoo at forwards.
The three scored 39 of the Knicks' 50 first-half points and kept peppering away in the second half any time the Bullets rallied.