Elvin Hayes and Kevin Grevey scored 21 points apiece last night to help the Bullets overcome a generally sluggish performance and defeat the San Diego Clippers, 102-90, at Capital Centre last night.

Hayes also had 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

The Bullets will go for two in a row tonight in Chicago against the Bulls (WDCA-TV-20 at 7:30).

Last night's game wasn't pretty. San Diego shot 24 percent from the field in the first half and 32 percent for the game.

The Bullets used a 10-0 scoring spurt early in the second quarter to rally from a 24-23 deficit and take a 33-24 lead, and they never trailed after that.

San Diego's most serious challenge came midway through the third period. The Clippers were down, 55-41, when rookie Michael Brooks hit the first two of 11 straight points. Seven of those points came after the 6-foot-7 forward from La Salle grabbed offensive rebounds. Brooks finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Brooks' splurge got the Clippers within seven points at 59-52 with 4:30 to play.

After Wes Unseld and Freeman Williams traded baskets, the Bullets again scored 10 straight points, six of them by Grevey, to take control at 71-54.

As an indication of what kind of night it was for the Clippers, guard Phil Smith went two for 14. A split second after the buzzer ending the first half, Smith tried a 45-foot scoop shot that fell in. Later, center Swen Nater tried to block a shot with a thrown shoe.

Nater lost his shoe at the offensive end of the floor midway through the fourth period. He picked it up and carried it with him to the defensive end. As Grevey tried a baseline jumper, Nater threw his shoe at the ball. He missed, and was hit with an unsportsmanlike-conduct technical foul.

The Capital Centre crowd of 8,625 went wild and gave Nater a laughing, standing ovation for his ingenuity.

"It was a desperation thing," Nater said. "I had to do something. I figured that since my shoe was off, I might as well use it. I didn't know it was going to be a technical foul, though, or I wouldn't have done it."

"I couldn't believe it," Grevey said of Nater's shoe-throwing antic. "It was typical of the way they played."

Bullet Coach Gene Shue, who coached Nater when he (Shue) was in San Diego, said Nater is a little flaky and "will do things like that. When he was at the foul line tonight, I called a 1-C play for Elvin and Swen looked over at me and asked if it was for him or the Bullets. We ran the same play in San Diego and Nater said he was just checking."

The Bullets got another good performance from rookie Carols Terry. In 16 minutes, he scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists and two steals. He also had four deflected passes and almost knocked Smith cold going for a loose ball.

Kevin Porter also came off the Bullet bench and had nine points, five assists and two steals.

"We were lethargic tonight," Grevey said, "but Carlos came in and sparked us and K. P. settled us down and once we got ahead we were able to stay there."

The victory improved the Bullets to 8-12 and they escaped the Atlantic Division cellar as New Jersey lost to Houston, 116-108. That dropped the Nets to 8-13, half a game behind the Bullets.

The Bullets also got word yesterday that results of tests on Bob Dandridge's injured knee were inconclusive, so it is still unknown how long he will be out, or if he will need surgery. His injury has been preliminarily diagnosed as a strained cartilage in the right knee.

In other NBA games last night, the Boston Celtics won their sixth straight victory, 108-106, over visiting Golden State; Philadelphia beat Indiana, 97-88, for its fifth straight; Fred Brown helped visiting Seattle over Dallas, 101-91; John Roche scored 30 points as host Denver belted Kansas City, 134-121, and Los Angeles swamped visiting Phoenix, 116-88, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scoring 29 points and pulling down 20 rebounds.