The Boston Celtics gave the Bullets a lesson in fast-break team basketball last night that left the Washington players panting and talking to themselves afterward.
Celtic reserve Rick Robey scored 18 points to lead a balanced attack that resulted in a 103-87 romp before 10,628 at Capital Centre.
Both sides sustained casualties.
The Bullets lost Elvin Hayes in the second quarter when he accidently was elbowed in the head by Boston's Eric Fernsten. Hayes was taken to Doctors' Hospital for tests, but released after they proved negative and he is expected to accompany the team to Milwaukee for tonight's 8:30 game against the Bucks.
The Celtics lost starting guard M. L. Carr for six to eight weeks when he broke a bone in his left foot while scoring on a fast break late in the first period. The Bullets appeared to miss Hayes a lot more than the Celtics missed Carr.
"I keep repeating myself after almost every game," said Bullet Coach Gene Shue. "We're having a most difficult time scoring points. We just can't reach a balance. We can't do the right thing at the right time. When we should be going inside, we're forcing the ball up from outside. And when we should be taking the outside shot, we're trying to force it inside."
The Bullets (2-6) had center Wes Unseld back after he missed Friday's game in Chicago with a pulled leg muscle, but not even he made that much difference. The Bullets still were outrebounded, 50-43.
There also was no way the Bullets could keep up with the Celtics, who are bigger, stronger, deeper, quicker and better. They have five players 6-foot-10 or taller and they play them all.
The worst of that group is the 6-10 Fernsten, and he turned in eight points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes.
"We have the quickness to beat them on the boards and outrun them, so we wanted to take advantage of it," Robey said.
The game began as if it was going to be the Bullets' night. Wes Matthews had two three-point plays and two assists in the first five minutes, when the Bullets sped to a 16-4 lead.
Boston's Larry Bird already had three fouls by then and the Celtics had missed nine of their first 10 shots.
Then they started clicking. First Robert Parish drilled a 15-footer. Then Carr and Gerald Henderson struck on fast breaks and Bird followed with a baseline jumper. Boston went on to outscore the Bullets, 25-4, that period and took a 29-20 advantage into the second quarter.
Ten of those points were off the fast break, as the Celtics began rebounding and taking off downcourt. The Bullets helped by missing 11 of their last 14 shots of the period.
The Bullets managed to stay close much of the second and third quarters, but they never looked like a threat to win.
Mitch Kupchak made two free throws and, after Kevin Grevey's basket, dunked home a shot to get the Bullets to 60-58 with 6:06 left in the third. But the Celitcs responded with a 16-4 spurt to take a 76-62 advantage into the final 12 minutes.
All the Bullets could come up with in those six minutes were two field goals, by Kevin Porter and Bob Dandridge, who led the Bullets with 20 points.
The Bullets, who shot 41 percent for the game, missed their last six shots of the third period, although Parish blocked two of them, and were not in contention in the fourth quarter.