The Washington Bullets were overmatched again last night, this time by the Philadelphia 76ers, who used their depth and speed to coast to a 112-99 victory in the Bullets' home opener.
Washington lost to the Celtics by 24 points in Boston in their league opener Friday.
The only thing the 12,666 fans at Capital Centre found to cheer about was the halftime ceremony, during which Wes Unseld's No. 41 jersey was retired and hung from the rafters.
"Time and patience are the two things we need most," said Coach Gene Shue.
Several players off the 76ers' bench might help, too, as Philadelphia came at the Bullets in waves in winning its third straight game.
Five players scored in double figures, with Julius Erving the leader with 19 points in only 29 minutes. Steve Mix came off the bench and made seven of 11 shots and scored 16 points, and Bobby Jones made six of nine shots and scored 15 points, nine of them in the second period, when the 76ers moved to a 22-point lead. The Bullets never made a serious comeback after that.
Don Collins led the Bullets' scoring with 17 points, 12 in the second period.
Rookie Frank Johnson overcame first-half jitters and was playing well in the second half when he sprained his right ankle driving for a layup. Trainer John Lally said the sprain wasn't serious, but didn't know how long Johnson would be sidelined.
Johnson had twisted the same ankle in practice Monday.
The 76ers scored frequently off fast breaks, and when a fast break wasn't possible, they relied on Erving, Jones or Darryl Dawkins.
"We can't do the things Philadelphia can do because we don't have the abundance of talent it has," said Collins. "We have to be patient."
"We aren't playing together well yet," said Greg Ballard, "and our mistakes caused a lot of our problems tonight. "We were taking quick shots or shots we shouldn't have been taking, and the next thing we knew, Philly was off and running a fast break. They're a good, fast-breaking team, but we did a lot to help them run."
Philadelphia Coach Billy Cunningham agreed.
"The Bullets looked confused running their plays. and most of that is because they aren't used to playing together," he said.
In an attempt to get more speed into his lineup, Shue started rookie Charles Davis at forward in place of Jim Chones. The other four starters, Ballard, Rick Mahorn, John Lucas and Kevin Grevey, had started against Boston.
Shue said he would stick with that lineup "for a while. It depends on how we do," he said.
Cunningham also has made one change in his starting lineup, replacing Caldwell Jones with Bobby Jones.
Bobby Jones and Erving form one of the best forward pairs in the National Basketball Association, and Jones was the catalyst when the 76ers broke open the game in the second period. They had moved to a 10-point lead midway through the quarter when they made 10 straight points in 85 seconds to take a 47-27 lead. Bobby Jones and Mix accounted for all the points in that spurt, with Jones making the first seven. All came off fast breaks and were set up by the Bullets' poor shooting.
As usual, it was Erving who provided the most spectacular play. While racing downcourt full speed with his back to the ball, he jumped over Grevey to catch a pass and then flipped the ball high off the glass without looking at the basket. It went in.
The 76ers had 32 assists and shot 54 percent.
Grevey scored 16 points and had the Bullets' first four-point play since the league adopted the three-point field goal last season. Grevey made a three-point jump shot from the right corner and was fouled by Lionel Hollins. He made the ensuing free throw.
The Bullets' next opponent is another powerful NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks. The teams play in Milwaukee Thursday.