Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Everywhere the Bullets turned last night, they came out on the short end.Their losing streak grew to five games, they lost Elvin Hayes in the first half with two technicals and they lost an increasingly heated debate with National Basketball Association referees.
Washington picked up four technicals, running its total to six in the last two contests, and argued so much with the officials that Atlanta was able to slip by with a 110-108 victory after trailing by as many as 15 points at Capital Centre.
A return home after a winless West Coast trip brought the club to life, but it didn't help the other major problems: poor foul shooting, an inability to solve zone defenses and inconsistent concentration.
"We should be able to beat a zone, we are pros," said Coach Dick Motta. "We better learn pretty quickly. We face another (at Indiana tonight) right away. Crying about it isn't going to help."
The Hawks, as scrappy and relentless as last year, but now with more talent, clinched the triumph on rookie Jack Givens' jumper with 11 seconds left that gave them a 108-107 lead.
Then the Bullets' Tom Henderson missed a 15-footer, Atlanta center Tree Rollins knocked the rebound to Eddie Johnson at half court, and he raced in a for a lay up. Wahington's final point came on Mitch Kupchak's free throw with one second left.
Motta realized his team should never have been in position to be cought at the end. The Bullets had momentum and whatever enthusiasm could be generated from the small crowd of 5,487 when they began arguing with the three-man officiating crew midway through the second period.
First Kupchak picked up a technical and Johnson made the foul shot to cut the Bullets' lead to 41-35. Moments later, with Hill drove the lane and was fouled by Hayes.
Hayes yelled at Bob Rakel, the lead referee, and immediately was slapped with a technical. Hayes continued to argue and was ejected by Rakel. Hill made the two technical foul shots, plus the two free throws from Hayes' foul. The Bullets turned the ball over and Motta drew a technical, Hill converting the free throw to tie the game at 42 with 5:04 left in the half.
"It's a shame you can't talk to them (the referees) anymore," said Henderson. "We can't be treated like men. You can't say anything anymore. I guess we are just going to have to stop fighting them and forget about them. Even when you are home, you don't get any benefits.
"All I know is this took away our momentum. We had it going. And without Elvin (five points, seven rebounds), well, that didn't help either."
Given second life, the Hawks, who once trailed, 25-10, weren't about to blow the opportunity. Mixing up full-court presses, half-court traps, zones and a relentless man to man, the Hawks forced 21 turnovers andcooled off the Bullets, who shot 65 percent the first half.