Gene Shue has tried every imaginable combination of players recently and the Bullets have responded by winning three of their last four games, improving to 12-15.

They will have a major test tonight in Hartford, Conn., when they face the Boston Celtics for the third time this season. The Celtics already have beaten them twice this season and Boston has won 11 of its last 13 games.

Guard Kevin Grevey, who missed the Bullets' 103-92 victory over Detroit Friday night with bronchitis, is questionable for the Boston game.

Grevey's absence Friday forced Shue into his biggest lineup shuffle of the season. Rookie Carlos Terry started for Grevey because Austin Carr is still sidelined after minor knee surgery two weeks ago.

Shue also had no intention of putting an all-rookie guard line of Terry and Wes Matthews on the floor, so he benched Matthews in favor of Kevin Porter, who filled the void by making seven of 11 shots from the field and handing out nine assists.

The Bullets added a wrinkle to theiroffense by running most of the shooting guard plays for Greg Ballard, allowing him to score a game-high 21 points.Elvin Hayes blocked eight shots, highest total in the league this season, and collected 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Shue has relied on Porter more lately. "It worked good against Detroit, so we might stay with it," Shue said.

Matthews took his demotion in stride, calling it "part of the game." In his reserve role, he had one of his better shooting games, finishing with 16 points, half of them in the forth quarter when he made three long jump shots in a row. His shooting helped offset his five turnovers.

"You play a little looser when you start," Porter said. "Coming off the bench you often feel you have to make something happen right away and if you make a mistake you might come right back out. I had adjusted to that and since I have played both roles, it won't be too hard for me to get used to starting again if we keep things this way."

With Carr out at least until next weekend, and with Dandridge out indefinitely with his knee problem, Grevey's illness left the Bullets with only one eight players Friday night. Shue chose to use only seven players.

"I just went with the people who were playing well," Shue said. "We needed to win that game badly so when things started going good I wasn't about to make any chanbges."