Kevin Grevey will be back in the starting lineup when the struggling Bullets play host to Kansas City tonight (WTOP-1500, 8:05). This time, he hopes it will be on a permanent basis.

It has been a frustrating season for the seven-year veteran, who has been set back twice by finger injuries. Only once, for about a 15-game stretch, has he been in the shooting groove he strives for.

His latest setback came in the third quarter at Dallas Feb. 10, when he jammed his finger on the backboard, straining the ligaments around his right index knuckle and palm. After sitting out three games, he struggled through nine scoreless minutes at Golden State and seven against Utah.

"I didn't have any feel for the ball," Grevey said yesterday after shooting exceptionally well in an unusually intense full-court scrimmage at Bowie State.

"I couldn't catch it, I couldn't handle it, I was very tentative," he continued. "It's still tender and I'm conscious of it, but I have my feeling back and felt like I was in my rhythm today."

Coach Gene Shue has been lamenting his team's lack of outside shooting in its three straight losses. He said yesterday that Grevey will rejoin John Lucas in the starting back court, replacing Don Collins.

"We've just got to get some outside shooting," Shue said. "If you don't get that it affects the inside game and throws off the balance of the entire offense."

Grevey averaged 17 points a game last season, and the Bullets need him to provide the same production if they are going to make the playoffs.

"I've got to get back in the groove," the 6-foot-5 guard said, shaking his head. "Today was a good practice because we really went hard and I felt good. I know we need outside shooting and that's my job. If I don't do it, the defense keeps sagging back on Rick (Mahorn) and Jeff (Ruland). I've got to block the injury out of my mind."

After a slow start, Grevey found his touch in mid-December. During a recent 18-game stretch just before the All-Star Game break, he averaged 17.2 points.

"It's really been a frustrating year," Grevey said. "First, I dislocate my finger in training camp, then I finally get in a groove and I hurt my hand again. Shooting is a rhythm thing: you've got to do it every day and when you miss a week or so, it can really throw you off.

"When you don't practice, it cuts down your wind and you get tired. When your legs aren't strong, it affects your shooting. It doesn't take much to throw you off.

"We've got a good chance to make the playoffs if we can get back to the way we were playing. We've all got to work a little harder and I hope I can help as much as I can."

Kansas City has lost three straight and is in last place in the Midwest Division, behind Dallas . . . The Kings have the league's worst road record (3-24), losing their last 14.