The National Basketball Association all-star break couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for the Washington Bullets.
Next to the Boston Celtics, they are the hottest team in the league. Their 108-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night was their fourth in a row and 10th in their last 12 games. The Bullets are 26-28, half a game out of a playoff spot. They haven't been beating patsies, either, with victories over such teams as San Antonio, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
The Bullets will now have to wait until Tuesday before they play another game. Coach Gene Shue is hoping the layoff doesn't dull his team's sharpness.
"Confidence is such a fickle thing and one reason we're dong so well now is because the players feel we're going to win every time we go out on the floor, no matter who we're playing. We're peaking now and you hate to have anything happen that could affect that."
No Bullet made the 11-man Eastern Conference all-star team. Unless there is a last-minute substitution, Elvin Hayes will have his consecutive all-star game appearance string broken at 13. The starters were selected by fan voting, and the coaches picked the other six players on each team.
The East starters for the game, which will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Richfield (Ohio) Coliseum, will be Julius Erving of Philadelphia, Mike Mitchell of Cleveland (subbing for injured Dan Roundfield of the Hawks), and Eddie Johnson of Atlanta and Artis Gilmore and Reggie Theus of Chicago. The reserves will be Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Tiny Archibald of Boston, Bobby Jones of Philadelphia, Marques Johnson of Milwaukee and Michael Ray Richardson of New York.
Starting for the favored West will be George Gervin of San Antonio, Paul Westphal of Seattle, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of Los Angeles, Walter Davis of Phoenix and Adrian Dantley of Utah.
The West reserves will be Moses Malone of Houston, Jack Sikma of Seattle, Truck Robinson and Dennis Johnson of Phoenix, Otis Birdsong of Kansas City and Jamaal Wilkes of Los Angeles.
Billy Cunningham of Philadelphia and John McLead of Phoenix will coach the teams.
Shue has given the Bullets a vacation until Monday, when they will meet in Portland for a practice session prior to Tuesday night's game there. That will be the first contest in a seven-game road trip.