For Walter Davis, this season has been one big pain in the arm.
Phoenix's four-time all-star lost his shooting accuracy, then his starting job after suffering a severe fracture of his left elbow. Only now is he beginning to return to his former level of excellence.
With injuries to Davis and Len (Truck) Robinson, two of the team's chief scorers, Phoenix has been struggling this season. After winning the Pacific Division with a 57-25 record last year, the Suns come to Capital Centre to play the Bullets tonight (WTOP-1500 at 8:05) in fourth place with a 33-26 mark.
Davis got tangled in the air with Joe Bryant of San Diego going for a loose ball in an exhibition game Oct. 23 and came down hard on his elbow. There still is a surgical screw and three tension wires implanted in the elbow to bind the fracture.
"My elbow still hurts," Davis said before flying here for last night's workout at Georgetown University. "But I've finally decided to ignore the pain and do the things I'm capable of doing."
The former North Carolina star missed the first 23 games this season and was used as a reserve for several weeks before reclaiming his starting job from Kyle Macy last month.
It wasn't long, however, before Coach John MacLeod realized that Davis, a 6-foot-6 converted forward, didn't have his usual accurate jump shot. He wasn't going to his left and opponents were starting to overplay him.
Davis came into this, his fifth season, with the fourth-highest shooting percentage in NBA history (.547), but last month he dipped below .500.
"I still can't fully extend my arm," Davis said. "Lately, I'm trying to forget about it and play my game."
MacLeod recently returned Macy to the starting lineup, again teaming the second-year guard with Dennis Johnson, and using Davis as his sixth man.
Macy has been very consistent, averaging 14 points and making 53 percent of his shots. He's second in the league in foul shooting and first in steals.
Davis, meanwhile, has been productive recently as the Suns have won five of their last seven. He scored 20 points in a victory at Seattle, 19 against Utah, 22 Friday night against Kansas City and 16 in Sunday's last-minute 94-92 loss to Houston.
Robinson is healthy again after missing seven games with a fractured right index finger. The former Bullet leads the Suns in scoring (slightly more than 20 points per game) and rebounding (10).
The Bullets' Rick Mahorn worked out yesterday after sitting out Saturday's 127-113 victory at Utah because of a bone bruise on his right ankle. He is expected to start. . . The Suns have won only eight of 28 road games . . . The Bullets gave Phoenix one of its six home losses, 105-98, Dec. 12.