With one month left in the regular season the Bullets, struggling all season to find two guards who can play together, now find themselves with a new problem: how to find playing time for four guards who are performing effectively.
Going into today's 1 p.m. game against the New York Knicks at Capital Centre, Washington Trails Indiana and the Knicks in the battle for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.
But in spite of their medicore 27-34 record, Washington has recently shown signs of life and takes a modest two-game winning streak into today's game.
Friday's 123-117 Bullet win over San Antonio was encouraging for the play of Elvin Hayes and backup guards Kevin Porter and John Williamson.
Porter, who has taken much of the blame for the Bullet failures this season, turned in his thrid straight solid performance. He scored seven of his 13 points during the last two minutes with the game on the line.
"I still don't like coming off the bench," Porter said afterward. "I like to start, get into the flow of things right away. This has been a major adjustment for me. But the last couple of nights I knew I was going in. That helped."
Porter credited Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who ran the team the last two games in the absence of flu-ridden Dick Motta, with giving him confidence by letting him know he would be in the game the second and fourth quarters.
"That's nothing new," said Bickerstaff. "Motta does it, too, when things are going well. But we've had so many injuries we haven't had that luxury this season."
Even more than Porter's showing, the play of the recently acquired Williamson (22 points) left the Bullets smiling.
"Everyone wants the ball in a crucial situation," said Wes Unseld. "But Williamson wants it and can get it in the hole consistently. That makes a big difference."
Williamson, who played with Porter in New Jersey, is delighted with his role and his new team. "I like playing with KP," he said, "I feel comfortable with him running next to me. Each game I feel more comfortable with this system and this team.
"Now I just want to have some time to go see the White House and the Washington Mounument."
Williamson will not do any sightseeing today. As Bickerstaff pointed out, this game is like a doubleheader because the Bullets are playing one of the teams they're contending with.
Motta is expected to be back on the bench today. "I'm going to pick him up myself," said Bickerstaff, 4-0 the last two seasons as a substitute coach, "I've had enough of this."
For the time being optimism has returned to the Bullet camp. People have even stopped talking about Bob Dandridge, absent nine games now.
"We're rolling," Williamson insisted.