Bullet Coach Gene Shue has been saying all season that one of his biggest problems has been finding the right combination of players. Last night he found it, and may have lost it, as Washington beat the Indiana Pacers, 114-105.
Shue hit paydirt when he put all three of his rookies, Wes Matthews, Carlos Terry and Rick Mahorn, in with veterans Wes Unseld and Kevin Grevey. That five reeled off 18 unanswered points over the last 4:34 of the first period and the first 30 seconds of the second to propel the Bullets from 21-8 deficit to a 26-21 lead.
But Terry hurt his left knee shortly afterward. Team physician Stan Lavine said Terry suffered strained ligaments and possibly damaged cartilage. Lavine will determine the seriousness of the injury in a more thorough examination Monday.
Two other Bullets, Bob Dandridge and Austin Carr, already are out with knee injuries.
Terry was hurt early when he drove to the baseline and his leg gave way as he was bumped by Mike Bantom.
He went down and had to be helped to the bench, returned with his knee heavily taped for the second half but didn't play again.
In 10 minutes, Terry made all four of his shots and had two rebounds, three assists and a steal.
If he is to be out long, and if Carr or Dandridge isn't ready, the Bullets will have to make a move of some kind because they would not have a backup small forward and only three guards.
Their next game is Tuesday at Capital Centre against the Chicago Bulls.
This victory snapped a three-game losing streak and ended a grueling stretch of five games in seven nights. They lost three of them.
Unseld and Grevey each scored 22 points. Grevey's total included three successful three-point shots in five attempts. He also contributed seven assists.
"We had every reason to be tired tonight," Shue said. "I felt we might get off to a slow start, and we did."
Bantom scored seven of Indiana's first 16 points and the visitors took a 21-8 lead before a sparse, quiet crowd of 5,137. Then Shue made his moves.
Unseld started the 18-0 run with a layup and Grevy followed with his first three-point field goal. Terry had two baskets and an assist, Matthews had two baskets and two assists and Unseld scored again to put the Bullets on top, 23-21, as the period ended.
Terry opened the second quarter with a three-point play and the Bullets were never again in trouble.
The pacers have given the Bullets trouble in the past with their pressure defense, but last night the Bullets handled it well.
"We were ready for their pressure," Grevey said. "We moved the ball and hit the open shot. Good ball movement is the way to beat any pressure."
As a result, the Bullets had 30 assists, 10 by Kevin Porter.
Indiana, which had won three in a row and eight of its last 10, was led by 23 points from Billy Knight and 20 from James Edwards.
Unseld's 22 points was his season high. He had 10 layups, most in heavy traffic, and two free throws.
"I don't care how I get my points," he said. "I'll take them any way I can."
The Bullets led by nine, at 54-45, at halftime and the Pacers never got closer than eight points after intermission. That was at 89-81, but the Bullets responded with six straight points, two by Mitch Kupchak and four by Elvin Hayes, to get their lead back to 14 with 8:44 to play. They led by as many as 18 later in the final quarter before Indiana finished with a flurry.