The Boston Celtics ran circles around the unenthused Washington Bullets tonight, coasting to a 116-101 NBA exhibition victory at the Spectrum.

The Bullets were without Elvin Hayes, at home with a sore hip, and never got into the game.

"Winning probably means a little more to us right now," said Boston Coach Bill Fitch. 'They (the Bullets) already have a good team. We're trying to get one."

They appeared to have one tonight as they sent the Bullets to their second straight preseason defeat.

Dave Cowens scored six of Boston's first eight points as the Celtics raced to a 17-5 lead six minutes into the game. And the Bullets never threatened to catch up.

Cowens finished with 25 points and Cedric Maxwell added 24 and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Nate (Tiny) Archibald had 12 assists and Boston looked like the fast-breaking Celtics of old.

Celtic rookie Larry Bird played 29 minutes before fouling out, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.

"Dave (Cowens) was hot tonight and I just tried to get him the ball as much as possible," Bird said.

The Bullets were led by Kevin Grevey's 16 points.

Washington's top rookie, Charlie Floyd, who grew up 20 minutes from the Spectrum, gave the Bullets a big second-quarter lift when he scored 11 points, nine straight in one stretch. He made five of six attempts, four of them soft jump shots from about 18 feet.

Floyd showed his versatility by playing both forward spots and admitted he was "pretty psyched up. My folks and everybody was here. All I tried to do was hit the open shot."

Gus Bailey played only the last six minutes but scored seven points and ran the offense well.

Greg Ballard, who started for Hayes, could not hit an open shot, however. He went one for 10.