ohn Lucas was feeling weak and Rick Mahorn was talking strong today after the Bullets worked out in this snowy city before flying to Chicago for Friday night's game against the Bulls.
"I really feel bad," Lucas said after practicing for 90 minutes. "I haven't eaten anything in two days. My stomach is all messed up. I don't know if I can play in Chicago (8:30 p.m., WDCA-TV-20), but I'll be there."
Lucas wasn't there Wednesday night when the Bullets beat Indiana, 97-85. After missing an early morning flight here, he arrived late for the game and was told by the Pacers' team physician he was too sick to play.
"I'm like the little boy who cried wolf," said Lucas, who earlier this season admitted he had a problem with cocaine use. "A lot of people get the flu or have stomach problems. But when I do, nobody believes me."
Lucas also said that he wasn't in an accident on the way to the Baltimore-Washington airport, as his message had been reported to Coach Gene Shue. He said there was an accident on the road that detained him and forced him to miss the flight.
Shue said that Lucas will not be fined for missing the game because he showed up at the arena and was sent back to the hotel by the doctor. Shue was more upset today about Mahorn being fined $1,000 for his latest elbow-swinging incident in a game against Detroit March 30. And so was the young center.
"They're bugging me," Mahorn said. "It seems like everybody is watching me now. I don't think I'm doing anything that a lot of other guys aren't doing, too."
Shue said that the officials are watching his muscular rebounder more closely ever since Darrell Garretson, chief of the officiating staff, was quoted as saying that Mahorn was "developing some reputation. I've seen him play good honest defense with four or five fouls. But he's heading for trouble . . . almost assured of causing some kind of problem down the line."
"The problem we have now is that the league office and officials are really out looking for Rick," Shue said. "I'm not suggesting that Rick doesn't use his elbows at times, but I'm just saying that I don't think it's particularly fair that the officials around the league were alerted to watch Rick Mahorn."
Mahorn was fined $500 early in the season and was ejected once for fighting in Detroit. He also is second in the league in fouls committed with about 4.5 a game. This fine was for an incident at Capital Centre in which he swung his elbows and knocked down the Pistons' Bill Laimbeer. Mahorn was called for a foul, but not given a technical.
Several teams in the Eastern Conference have sent videotapes of Mahorn's elbow-swinging to the league office.
Commissioner Larry O'Brien has been busy collecting money for excessive elbowing this season. Among others, Atlanta's Wayne (Tree) Rollins has been fined twice, and Milwaukee's Harvey Catching was fined $1,250 for hitting Larry Bird of Boston with an elbow.
"Rick has had a problem during the course of the season with his elbows being out and so he's been fined," Shue said. "He's going to have to change his rebounding style somewhat and learn to keep his elbows in."
"The problem is this has created extra pressure on him and we can't afford that right now."
Mahorn matched his career-high with 17 rebounds in Wednesday night's 97-85 victory over the Pacers. He's second on the team behind Jeff Ruland with 8.7 per game.