Bullet center Rick Mahorn, who left Capital Centre in an ambulance Tuesday night after injuring his back in a frightening fall, was at practice yesterday and will accompany the team to Detroit for a game against the Pistons tonight.

Mahorn tumbled over Milwaukee's Alton Lister in the final seconds of Tuesday's game, won by the Bucks, 99-95. Mahorn said he couldn't get his arms up in time to break the fall and landed on his chin, jamming his back.

He was taken to the Bowie Clinic for X-rays, which showed no fracture, and returned to Capital Centre before going home.

The injury has been diagnosed as a lower back strain. Coach Gene Shue said Mahorn is "probable" for tonight's game.

The favorable report relieved Shue, he said, "because I thought he had hurt himself really badly.

"He didn't practice today because he's still very sore, but if he feels better tomorrow (Thursday), he'll play. If he can't go, then Jim Chones will start."

Mahorn spent yesterday's practice session getting treatments on his back. He said he is sore, "but I'm going on the trip and I'll try to play. If it's too sore, I'll wait another day and try to play Friday."

After the Detroit game, the Bullets play Houston here Friday night and then go to Chicago to face the Bulls Saturday.

Mahorn said he thought "my whole back was gone when I hit the floor. It was numb for 20 minutes.

"It was late in the game and we were trying to catch up, so I was looking to foul their worst foul shooter. That was Lister. He faked me, and when I went up, I went up too high and came down over him."

Mahorn, a second-year player from Hampton Institute, is the key to the Bullets this season. He leads the team in rebounding and blocked shots and is second in scoring. He is the player missed most when out of the game.

"He's just so important to us," said Shue. "I'd hate to think of where we'd be without him."

Shue said he had planned to start Kevin Grevey at guard tonight, but Grevey reinjured his left little finger in practice yesterday and Shue was uncertain whether he would be ready. Grevey dislocated his finger in the preseason.

Grevey played 24 minutes as a reserve against the Bucks, but made only one of nine shots. He had missed the previous two games with a strained left thigh. Brad Holland has been starting in his place.