Washington Coach Gene Shue was asked what he would write if he were to write about his Bullets' 121-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks yesterday at Capital Centre.
"In a meaningless game, the Washington Bullets played hard and . . ."
Give that man a Pulitzer. The game was meaningless, except for giving 8,703 customers something for their time and money, and the Bullets did appear to be playing hard as they broke a five-game losing streak by trouncing the crippled Hawks.
Kevin Grevey scored 24 points and Mitch Kupchak 23 to lead the Bullets. Steve Hawes had 22 and Eddie Johnson 20 for the Hawks.
Atlanta played without its regular front line of Tree Rollins (knee), John Drew (knee) and Dan Roundfield (wrist). The Hawks just were not deep enough to keep up with the Bullets in a match of teams not headed for the playoffs.
Washington center Wes Unseld's knees ached so badly before the game that he could not play. So rookie Rick Mahorn worked 33 minutes and Shue expressed pleasure. Mahorn made four of 10 shots from the field, scored 10 points and had eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
"With Wes not coming back next year, Rick is our center, now," Shue said. "If he builds on his game and does things like he did today, he'll be okay. It looks like he's a player. Whether he can carry the load next season or not, we still need help at center. I don't know how good (Jeff) Ruland is, but he should help."
The 6-foot-10 and muscular Ruland, acquired from Golden State during the draft last year, played in Europe this season. He is expected to sign with the Bullets this summer.
Shue said he will continue to experiment with his lineup the rest of the season, "but K. P. (Kevin Porter) has a chance to win the assist title, so I'll play him a little more."
Porter had 10 assists yesterday and is tied with Kansas City's Phil Ford for the league lead with 8.8 per game. Ford has been sidelined the past month with an eye injury and a kidney ailment.
Porter downplayed the assist title. "I'm tired of accomplishing individual things," he said. "I just want to be on a championship team."
The Bullets experienced two scares during the game.
The first came when Mahorn fell hard on his knee and needed a couple of minutes to recover. The injury is a bruise and he probably will not miss any action.
The bigger fright came with 2:11 left and the Bullets on top, 113-92. Kupchak dove headlong for a loose ball and crashed into the seats once occupied by Shue, trainer John Lally and Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff. Kupchak rose slowly, holding his arm, but afterward said he wasn't hurt.
"With the score what it was, when I saw Mitch diving like that I didn't know if he was going after me, Bernie or John," Shue said.
The Bullets have four games remaining, the last one next Sunday at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers.