If there, is one thing professional basketball players hate to do, it is practice. And for the last four days, that's all the Washington Bullets have been doing.
Coach Dick Motta said yesterday that this is the first time he can remember holding four straight days of practice during the regular season. But he said he feels it will make a difference in his team's so-far disappointing play.
The Bullets, who have played only nine games in the first month of the season, begin a six-games-in-nine-nights stretch tonight against the San Antonio Spurs at Capital Centre.
"I really feel good about these last four practices," Motta said. "Of the four, one was excellent, two were good and one was above average."
"I know this team would rather play than practice, but they really worked hard," Motta said. "I feel they think they are good and they want to get going now and show it."
"The practices got us all thinking in the same direction," said center Wes Unseld. "That in itself will help."
Unseld, the Bullets' captain, is off to one of his best starts, despite the team's 3-6 record.
Partly because of the injury to Mitch Kupchak, Unself leads the Bullets in minutes played, averaging 37 a game. He is averaging 13.9 rebounds a game, which is third best in the NBA and the best for Unseld in the last six seasons.
Unseld, who has chronically bad knees and has never been enamored of practice, said, "Practicing hard four days in a row won't do me much good, but we needed them (the practices) as a team.
"I have confidence that we'll be all right this season, but it won't just happen. We'll have to do it ourselves."
The Bullets are six games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia 76ers and five behind the Boston Celtics. True, they have 73 regular-seadon games left but, as Unseld said:
"There are so many good teams in the league now that you can't afford to get in a hole, and we're in one. You can't make those games up, either, and sooner or later they will come back to haunt you, in one way or another.
"The thing now is for us not to get too far down. All we can do, though, is do the things we know we can do and do them 100 percent."
In the past, the Bullets have been able to sit back and then call on their superior talent. Unseld doesn't think that trick will work anymore.
"We don't have any more talent than Boston or Philadelphia," Unseld said. "We've just worked harder to become successful in the past. This season, we just didn't seem to bring the attitude, conditioning and everything with us. I certainly hope it's coming back, though.
"There's been more fire and intensity lately and that all comes about when you're down. But all that intensity doesn't mean a thing if you aren't together and you don't know what you're doing once you get on the floor."
Elvin Hayes had his sore knee drained yesterday and he did not work out. He said he would play tonight . . . Roger Phegley, who missed the last game with a sprained ankle, said he, too, plans to see action against the Spurs . . . Motta said Phegley wasn't moving well in practice yesterday . . . Mitch Kupchak, who practiced hard Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, needed a day of rest yesterday, but he said he feels good and plans to be ready around Thanksgiving . . . San Antonio is 7-6 and George Gervin, the two-time defending NBA scoring champion, is second in the league with a 28.1 average.