The injury-plagued Washington Bullets caught the Cleveland Cavaliers red hot in the first quarter, when the Cavs scored their greatest number of points in an opening period this season, 39, and never recovered, losing, 126-105.

The Bullets began the second half with a handicap as Coach Gene Shue benched forward Elvin Hayes with four fouls and decided to keep him on the bench for the rest of the game.

"Elvin's knee tightened up when he sat on the bench, so I kept him out. . .," Shue said.

That was unfortunate because the Bullets needed him badly. Without him, the Bullets never really got back into the game.

The Cavaliers led, 39-23, at the end of the first quarter, mostly behind forward Mike Mitchell's 16 points.

The Cavs shot 76.2 percent from the floor while the Bullets were hitting 28.6 percent.

Guard Kevin Grevey tried hard to get the Bullets back in the game, hitting 13 points in the second quarter. At one point, he brought his team to within five points of the fast-breaking Cavs.

Grevey hit a field goal on a driving layup with 5:39 left in the second quarter to make the score 48-43, Cleveland.

But Cavalier guards Roger Phegley and Randy Smith took over to lead their team to a 65-33 halftime advantage.

Smith scored eight points and Phegley six in the quarter.

Washington did pull within 10 points, 102-92, at 6:45 of the third quarter when Grevey, who finished with 25 points, took a pass from guard Kevin Porter and hit a jump shot from the right of the key.

But two field goals by Cav center Bill Lambeer and a layup by Randy Smith pulled Cleveland into a 108-92 lead, and it was a laugher from then on. s

With Hayes out, Cavalier power forward Kenny Carr had a banner night with 20 rebounds and 19 points.

Randy Smith led all scorers with 33 points, and Mitchell followed with 27.

Grevey's 25 points led the Bullet scorers, followed by Greg Ballard with 18.

Mitch Kupchak contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds.