The Washington Bullets ran their winning streak to seven games last night by holding the high-scoring Chicago Bulls to their lowest total this season, a mere 84 points, and controlling the tempo throughout the last three quarters of a 94-84 triumph before 6,839 at Capital Centre.
The Bullets' winning streak now is the longest since they won nine straight from Nov. 4 to Dec. 1, 1978, the season they were defending NBA champions and led the league in victories with 54.
This also marked the 22nd time in 41 games the Bullets have held an opponent to fewer than 100 points and the 10th time to fewer than 90.
"The difference was our defense broke down a few times and they got some easy shots and they stayed intense the whole way," said Chicago Coach Jerry Sloan, who knows from experience what aggressive defense is all about.
"When the Bullets are running their offense, they're also playing defense," Sloan said. "They're always in position and those big strong guys just knock the hell out of you. It's those strong bodies that hold up at the end of the game."
As usual, Rick Mahorn was the defensive catalyst, calling out the picks and switches, blocking shots and muscling Artis Gilmore (26 points) out of position.
"Ricky hasn't gotten enough credit for our defense," said John Lucas, who started in place of the injured Frank Johnson and contributed eight assists and nine points. "He was the difference in the second half."
Mahorn, the league's fourth-leading shot-blocker, rejected two and changed several others. Reggie Theus, the Bulls' leading scorer with a 20-point average, made only four of 14 shots as he ran into heavy traffic whenever he tried to penetrate the middle.
"Gilmore's so big, we know we can't shut him down completely, so we try to cut off everybody else," said Mahorn. "We play a helping defense; we've stressed it all year."
Lucas, a veteran playmaker, was involved in a serious auto accident on his way to a shooting practice at noon. He needed five stitches in his left eyelid and seven in his right knee to close cuts after demolishing his wife's Chevette.
"The light was yellow and I kept going," he said. "The guy on my left went through a red light and I hit him in the rear," Lucas explained. "I lost control, went across the medium strip and hit another car head on. I'm lucky to be alive, but I had to play tonight.
"This was my way of showing my teammates that I still want to be part of this team. I want them to know that I'm going to be reliable."
Lucas was needed because Johnson, the rookie who took his job, has a sprained left ankle and is doubtful even for Thursday night's game here against New York.
"John played quite well," said Coach Gene Shue. "Once he showed up, he had to play because the coach's creed is: Thou shall not play without a point guard."
As usual, Greg Ballard paced the Bullets' scoring. The veteran forward made seven of 18 shots and all six free throws for 20 points. Jeff Ruland had 17, 11 in the second period when the Bullets built a 49-38 halftime advantage.
Chicago came here with a three-game winning streak, fresh from a 140-point game in New York.