Scott Wedman and Richard Washington can't walk without limping. Bobby Wilkerson had an aching knee. And 7-foot-1 center James Edwards can't move his neck without gritting his teeth.
Meet the Cleveland Cavaliers, pro basketball's version of General Hospital. They have lost three times as much as they have won. They are an early Christmas for anyone who plays them.
It was the Bullets' turn tonight, and they took advantage of the opportunity by getting a 106-102 victory at the Coliseum.
Greg Ballard scored 25 points and Jeff Ruland 24 for the Bullets. Rookie guard Frank Johnson had 22, including the game's last six.
Cleveland was just what the doctor ordered as the Bullets shook off their embarrassing 107-102 loss to Dallas Tuesday night at the Capital Centre. The Mavericks are another member of the NBA's low-rent district, and Bullet Coach Gene Shue didn't want opportunity to pass his team by twice.
"We had a tough loss the other night because we didn't rebound or shoot well," said Shue, whose team is 9-13 and has won five of its last seven games.
"We kept coming back tonight and sprinted at the end to win it," added Shue. "Tonight's game was excellent. Every shot meant something."
None of the shots meant more than Johnson's long jump shot with 42 seconds to play that gave the Bullets a 104-102 lead. After a Cleveland timeout, the Cavaliers' Mike Mitchell (23 points) put up a short air ball. The Bullets rebounded, Johnson dribbled the clock down to 13 seconds, then put in a layup for the final margin.
"Ballard is such a great shooter, and Johnson -- heck, you don't play defense from where he shoots," said Cleveland Coach Chuck Daly. "The way the Bullets shot, they'll win a lot of games."
Indeed, the Bullets were hot. They made 51 percent of their shots and outrebounded Cleveland, 47-41. Ballard and Ruland again were the leaders, Ballard with 14 rebounds and Ruland with 10. It was a good thing they picked up the slack, for Rick Mahorn, the team's second leading scorer entering the game, was held to nine points before fouling out.
Nobody looked more content afterward than Ballard, his team's leading scorer a sixth straight game.
"I'm getting in a groove," he said. "I'm coming off the pick and hitting the jump shot.
"We're happy with the way things are going now. Cleveland was hurting with a lot of their top players out. This was a game we needed.