The Washington Bullets have left town and, judging by the ugly sounds that fell on their ears in Capital Centre Tuesday night, the departure came none too soon.
Pro basketball connoisseurs could not recall such expressions of disapproval for the Bullets as those that accompanied the 123-99 loss to the Phoenix Suns. They also could not remember a crowd given greater reason to jeer the home heroes.
"If I'd paid my money, I probably would have booed, too, because we didn't give them their money's worth," said Elvin Hayes, who hit only seven of 19 shots while the team was slogging along at 40 percent.
Coach Dick Motta used his entire 11-man roster in the first half while trying to discover a winning combination. Nothing worked and now he must try to regroup his 11-14, fourth-place club on a road trip that calls for three games in three nights.
The first stop tonight is in Richfield, Ohio, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is the only contest among the three that will not be televised, with fans not totally turned off invited to turn on WDCA-TV-20 for the games with Indiana (and Phil Chenier) Friday at 8 p.m. and Chicago Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Although all three opponents are below .500, the Bullets can expect no easy reversal of their poor form. Both Cleveland and Indiana thrashed Washington during late November visits to Capital Centre.
Bobby Dandridge, the Bullets' high scorer in both previous games against the Cavaliers, one victory and one defeat, was absent from yesterday's practice with what a club spokeman called a minor foot problem. He is expected to play tonight, however.
Greg Ballard, the Bullets' only good shooter Tuesday (six for nine), hit his career-high total of 26 in a 10-point loss to the Pacers on an earlier visit to Indianapolis. Although 14-16, the Pacers are 2-0 against the Bullets.
Chicago, third-worst team in the 22-franchise NBA, lost its only previous meeting with Washington but showed signs of life Tuesday in an easy victory over Portland.
The Bullets return home Wednesday to play Kansas City, hopeful that, by that time, a combination of Christmas spirit and road success will have calmed down the dissidents in the stands.