Gene Shue was very blunt tonight about the Washington Bullets' 11th loss in 17 games.
"I'm not really happy with the team, period!" he exclaimed after the Indiana Pacers exploded for 36 points in the final period to defeat the Bullets, 118-108, at Market Square Arena.
"We're making too many mistakes on the floor. I know the reasons why we lose. We just make careless errors. We turn the ball over all the time."
Tonight the Bullets mishandled the ball 20 times and that, combined with 13 fewer rebounds, resulted in Washington's seventh defeat in eight road games.
Wes Unseld sees part of the problem being the adjustment to a new coach.
"We're having problems all over," he said, "just adjusting to a whole new basketball style."
Unseld's return to the court early in the fourth period slowed the Bullet attack and Indiana spurted to its 10th victory despite an excellent game by ageless Elvin Hayes.
Hayes, who will be 35 Monday and is the oldest player in the league, continued to play like he was 10 years younger. He scored 26 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked five shots and passed off for a couple of baskets while going 42 minutes, more than any other player.
In the dressing room, Hayes ignored attempts to question him about his game.
Perhaps that was because an old adversary, Mike Bantom, outscored him by three. Bantom, playing with a sore back, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.
Asked how often he had outscored Hayes, he quipped, "Once."
Unseld went to the bench in the third period, Mitch Kupchak replacing him, and the Bullets made their finest spurt of the game, rallying from 11 points back to send the contest into the fourth quarter tied at 82.
Indiana was in front, 86-84, when Unseld, the Bullets' center for 13 seasons, came back in. In the next 5 1/2 minutes, the Pacers outscored the Bullets, 20-8, and Washington never got closer than the final 10-point margin.
Shue was asked why Kupchak was not used in the stretch, but he avoided the question.
"I don't think that was the basic reason (for Indiana's rally)," he said.
"Basically, Wes handles the ball. The Indiana team was trapping. Wes is the player we use all the time."
Unseld's contributions didn't show in the box score. In 29 minutes, he had only five points, six rebounds and two assists.
Rookie guard Wes Matthews got loose for 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter when the Bullets scored 36 points, nine more than Indiana. The 24 tied his career high. He also had eight assists, but was charged with seven turnovers.
Behind Bantom, Indiana had two other big scorers. Billy Knight tallied 11 points in the final period and finished with 26. He has scored 131 points in his last four games.
George Johnson, acquired in a pre-season trade with Milwaukee for Mickey Johnson, also had 26, his season high. He led the Pacer rebounders with 14 as Indiana had a 53-40 edge off the boards.
"We had to eat grass, so to speak," said the Brooklyn native.
The victory for Indiana came after a humiliating loss to Philadelphia Thursday night.
"That was a very good comeback," said Pacer Coach Jack McKinney. "For the most part we played well. I was particularly happy about the rebounding of our forwards.
"They went after the ball and played the boards very strongly."