Washington Coach Gene Shue was a basketball general without an army tonight at the Coliseum as Wes Unseld and Kevin Grevey were left behind to nurse injuries incurred in the Chicago game Friday night.
The undermanned Bullets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers and it was no contest from the opening tipoff. The Cavaliers rolled, 132-112, before 3,902 customers.
Grevey reinjured his hand and Unseld hurt a knee, but they are expected to be with the Bullets when they play in Los Angeles Tuesday night.
"That (injuries) was everything tonight," said Shue. "We had a tough game Friday night at home. It was hard for us to function as a team without Unseld, especially, and also without Grevey.
"Of course, we've already had injuries before this. There just wasn't anything we could do tonight to beat Cleveland."
Austin Carr made his first start as a Bullet, replacing Grevey, and rookie Rick Mahorn filled in for Unseld.
Carr logged 40 minutes and scored 17 points, his season highs, and was honored at halftime when his Cleveland No. 34 was retired in a brief ceremony. Carr played nine years with the Cavaliers and is the team's career high scorer.
"It's a real thrill to have your number retired," Carr said. "That doesn't happen to many players. My number is retired, but I'm not dead. I want to play three more years in the NBA.
The onetime Washington high school star broke down during the ceremony, tears rolling down his face before a five-minute standing ovation.
For the record, Elvin Hayes topped the Bullets with 22 points, but he sat out most of the third quarter with five personals and fouled out late in the fourth after scoring 10 points in the period.
Cleveland ran off a 20-8 lead and never looked back. The Cavaliers led, 37-23, after one period and 70-51 at halftime.
Mike Mitchell held Greg Ballard to one basket in 11 tries and took game scoring honors with 31 points. Mitchell has 94 points in his last three games.
Cleveland, winning its third in a row, had seven double-figure scorers. Randy Smith, a 10-year NBA veteran, was taken out of the starting lineup three games ago and now is third guard, but he scored 23 points tonight. l
Cleveland's rookie center Bill Laimbeer took advantage of Unseld's absence with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. The Cavaliers outboarded the Bullets, 50-43. Mahorn had 11 to top Washington.
"We played better team defense tonight," said Cleveland Coach Bill Misselman, who has been under fire because of trades and the Cavs' slow start this season.
"Some of the guys are accepting their roles, especially Randy Smith, who just wears down his opponents when he comes off the bench fresh."