Ever since he admitted he had a problem with cocaine a month ago, Bullet guard John Lucas has been in a fish bowl.
Everywhere he has gone, players and fans have been generally supportive. But Lucas is apprehensive about Saturday night's game against Golden State at the Oakland Coliseum where, he thinks, he could get a rough reception.
Lucas was a star for the Warriors before he started missing games and practices last season. He cited personal reasons for the absences, but in an interview last month said cocaine was the real problem.
The Warriors dropped Lucas after the completion of the 1980-81 season.
"I have mixed feelings about going back," Lucas said after Thursday's 105-87 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics at the Kingdome. "I know they're going to boo me every time I touch the ball. I'm ready for it, though. It's still just another game and I'm going to try as hard as I can to win. I was really psyched up when we played them at Capital Centre, but I'm really going to be ready for them down there."
In the other game between the Bullets and Warriors, at Capital Centre in November, Lucas led Washington to a 107-88 victory. He scored a season-high 24 points and had 10 assists.
Lucas lost his starting job to rookie Frank Johnson Jan. 6 when he failed to show up for a game in Philadelphia, but regained it Feb. 26 when Johnson sprained his ankle in a game in Kansas City. He and Johnson usually split the time at the playmaking-guard position now and both seem happy with the arrangement.
"Everybody has a role on this team," said Lucas. "My role is to keep us in the game for three quarters, and then let the shooter, Frank, take over."
Lucas has played very well on this road trip, which concludes Saturday night. He was the most effective guard in the loss in Seattle and had 22 points and 12 assists in the victory over Dallas the second game of the trip. He played so well against the Mavericks that Coach Gene Shue left him in the entire second half, when he scored 20 of his 22 points.
Thursday night's loss left the Bullets 3-2 on the two-week trip. The defeat dropped the Bullets to 25-26, and it enabled the Sonics to snap a four-game losing streak and move into a tie with Los Angeles for first plce in the Pacific Division with a 35-17 record. It was also Seattle's 10th straight victory at the Kingdome, giving the Sonics the best home record in the league, 21-4.
It was a case of too much Gus Williams Thursday. The Sonic guard scored 18 points in the first quarter and finished with 26 and the Sonics raced to an easy victory. The Bullets were overmatched for the first time in the two weeks.
"Seattle played hard, strong and aggressive," said Shue. "The way they (the Sonics) played forced us into the way we played."
The Bullets committed 20 turnovers, leading to 20 Seattle points, and only shot 40 percent. Johnson had a particularly tough night, missing 10 of 12 shots and going zero for six on three-pointers.
With Kevin Grevey still out with an injured hand, Shue, in his attempt to find an effective shooting guard, tried rookie Charles Davis at the position. Davis scored 12 points, the only Bullet besides Greg Ballard (17) to score in double figures.
Williams got most of his points on breakaway layups after he released down court as soon as the Bullets put up a shot. Washington couldn't get its defense coordinated and Williams was often virtually alone at the opposite end of the court.
The Bullets were only down by a point, 68-67, with 3:15 left in the third period, but were outscored, 16-2, over the next six minutes and that was that.
Even with the defeat in Seattle, the Bullets have won seven of their last 10 road games and, with a 14-12 record away from home, are one of only seven teams in the National Basketball Association with a better-than-.500 record on the road. Washington is the only team in the league with a better winning percentage on the road than at home; the Bullets are 11-14 at Capital Centre.