Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The world champion Washington Bullets now have a .500 record and Coach Dick Motta isn't surprised.
"By tradition this team is slow starting and right now we're playing .500 type basketball," said Motta.
Indeed, the Bullets played that brand of basketball Saturday night, being blasted by the San Antonio Spurs, 143-124, before 12,563 fans in the Convention Center Arena.
San Antonio manhandled the Bullets throughout the first half. Washington staged a revival of sorts in the third period and then died again late in the fourth quarter.
The victory marked the Spurs' fifth in six home appearances, while Washington's road mark dipped to 2-5.
The Spurs, who had been averaging 147 points in their home games, rode the 37-point shooting of Larry Kenon, who also grabbed 17 rebounds, his season high.
Kenon's effort marked a rare happening for San Antonio. The Bullets normally rough up the Spurs on the boards but last night the Texans finished with a 43-40 advantage.
"Tonight our defense and rebounding was awesome," said Spur Coach Doug Moe. "I thought it was amazing that Washington came out ready and were bumping as usual but we still were aggressive on defense and bumped with them for a change."
San Antonio led by as many as 30 points (57-27) in the opening half and opened a 67-40 edge at intermission.
The Bullets committed 18 errors in the first half, shot 41 percent and were the recipients of some shaky refereeing, according to Motta.
"You couldn't break a cream puff out there tonight," said Motta. "The next thing you know they'll be having us playing in aprons."
"I am for the three officials but there still are some bugs to be worked out. Some of the new rules changes (mainly hand checking) have everyone tiptoeing.
"It's hard for some guys to change quickly after doing the same thing for 10 years. It's like the NFL rules change regarding bumping for the defensive backs. Same thing."
The Bullets' primary problem, however, was not the referees, Motta said.
Another Washington difficulty was 41 percent shooting in the first half as compared to 59 percent by the Spurs.
The Bullets picked up the pace though, in the third period.Washington outscored the Spurs, 41-33, in that period.