Perhaps it is a recurrence of the case of year-end blahs that infected the Bullets last season. Or perhaps they finally are wilting after all those extra minutes they have had to play the last few weeks because of injuries.

Whatever the cause, Washington hardly is finishing this so-far glorious season with a bang.

The Bullets have lost three of their last five games going into today's 1:45 p.m. matchup with Denver at Capital Centre.

The Nuggets will be without forward George Mcginnis, who suffered an ankle injury Friday night in San Diego.

The preliminary diagnosis indication Mcginnis had partially torn ligaments in his left ankle and was expected to be out for six to eight weeks.

Mcginnis was placed on the injured list and rookie Geoff Crompton was activated to replace him.

Although the Bullets still have a three-game edge over Seattle for the league's best record, they've been flat in recent games, which puzzles Coach Dick Motta.

"There is no explanation for it," he said. "The same thing happened to us last year, at this time. We've lost the last two home games and we haven't been sharp, yet we go up to New Jersey Wednesday and we could have beaten anyone in the league."

Ironically, the Bullets, who must play six games in eight days, have grown healthier as they stumbled. First Mitch Kupchak, then Kevin Grevey returned from the ranks of the injured to swell the roster to 10. Only Tom Henderson, still questionable with a sore knee for the rest of the regular season, remains sidelined.

Now Motta, still seeking his 500th NBA career victory, has to try to give both Grevey and Kupchak enough playing time to help them regain their sharpness while also making sure Washington perform well enough to wrap up the No. 1 record.

Grevey's return Friday in and embarrassing 132-104 loss to Portland was unexpected. Even he had felt the earliest he could play would be either today or, most likely, Tuesday in Milwaukee.

But Grevey said his pulled hamstring felt well enough during the week that he decided it could hold up under game conditions. Motta, who leaves it up to the players to say when they feel ready to return after injuries, has his fingers crossed, hoping that Grevey again has not made a premature comeback.