When the Capital Centre score-board and clock went out late in the first quarter last night, so did the Washington Bullets.

The Bullets were rolling along with a seven-point lead and playing what Kevin Grevey called "the best we have played in this series, but that delay killed us. It destroyed our momentum and gave them a chance to get back into the game."

The delay lasted about 18 minutes and after that, "We started walking the ball upcourt and playing their game," said Bobby Dandridge.

"That was like a 15 minute timeout for them," said guard Charles Johnson. "It was like going into the locker room and saying, 'Let's start all over again.'"

The Bullets were down by nine points with 6:37 to play after a three point play by Dan Roundfield and were forced to try and catch up without two starters, center Wes Unseld and guard Kevin Grevey, who were out with injuries.

Unseld's painful knees limited him to only 3 1/2 minutes of play in the fourth period and Grevey was hit in the shoulder by Roundfield in the third period and didn't score after that. He did not play at all in the final period.

"It just stiffened up," said Grevey. "I told Dick I could run and play defense but I couldn't shoot."

Motta decided to play Johnson for most of the final period because Larry Wright had four fouls. Johnson was instrumental in getting the Bullets back in the game in the final minutes.

It was Atlanta guard Terry Furlow who got the big points down the stretch, however. He scored 21 for the game, eight in the fourth quarter.

Tom Henderson was on him in the fourth period, but Furlow, a streak shooter, was practically unstoppable.

"He is a good shooter and they look for him a lot," said Johnson. "He has a lot of confidence in himself now, too. He seems to be the only player Hubie (Atlanta Coach Brown) lets free-lance and he takes advantage of it."

Despite being down as far as they were, the Bullets still had a chance to tie the score in the final 23 seconds, but one Dandridge shot was blocked by Roundfield and, after retrieving it, Dandridge missed again. Both shots were from the right baseline about 12 feet away.

"I guess it was just their time to pick up a game like this," Grevey said. "You have to give the Hawks credit, though. They are making us work. We knew this was going to be a long tough series before it started. I guess we just don't like to do things the easy way.

"We came to play tonight, but it's tough to beat any team three times in a row in this short a span. We didn't have a letdown going into the game, but we sure had one after the lights went out."

Dandridge, who carried the Bullets to their three victories in the series, played 44 minutes last night and scored 24 points. He said he got the shot he wanted that would have tied the game near the end "but it just wouldn't fall.

"I knew I didn't want to go back to Atlanta and I'm dreading it now," Dandridge said."I don't want to have to get up for another game against them.

"They played just like we expected tonight. I thought at times that we didn't play as hard as we could have, though."

"They came in here without anything to lose," added Johnson. "That's what comes from not having much playoff experience. They don't believe they can lose. They came to play and they would have accomplished a lot even if they had lost by a point, but they came in and won. You have to give them credit."

Four Hawks are in bad physical shape: Roundfield injured his shoulder in a wrestling match for the ball, Eddie Johnson had to have his knee drained before the game, John Drew played with a swollen, painful foot and Three Rollins "needs a major operation on his right knee."

Rollins aggravated the injury in the second period and did not return to the game until 4:09 remained in the third period. He was limping badly. CAPTION: Picture, Tom McMillen has no chance against Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. By Gerald Martineau-The Washington Post