Before the season started, Bullets coaches Gene Shue, Bernie Bickerstaff and Don Moran and General Manager Bob Ferry were excited about the play of guards Frank Johnson and Bryan Warrick.

Now the Bullets have struggled through three losses in their last four games, and criticism is being directed at Johnson and Warrick.

"They just aren't getting the job done," said Shue. "I'm not sure what we'll do about it, but we have to do something. Our inconsistency in the back court is what's really hurting us. We're doing all the wrong things, it's that simple.

"Maybe Bryan is struggling because he's a rookie and he'll work his way out of it. I hope that's what it is. I don't know what's wrong with Frank, though. He's having all sorts of problems. When he's going he's fantastic, but now . . . "

Johnson made one of eight shots and had five turnovers in the Bullets' 88-87 loss to the New York Knicks Friday night at Capital Centre. He was two for eight with four turnovers in the previous game, a 108-105 loss to Detroit.

"My shot just isn't going in," said Johnson.

Warrick took only one shot, which he missed, and committed two turnovers Friday. In his last five games, Warrick shot two for 15 and had problems defensively, too.

Fortunately for the Bullets, team defense has been fairly solid, "but everything else needs an overhaul," Shue said.

The Bullets don't have much time to get things together. They play the Philadelphia 76ers in a nationally televised game today at the Spectrum (WDVM-TV-9 at 3:30).

The Sixers (6-1) lost for the first time Friday night, 117-108, to the Indiana Pacers. They won again in New Jersey last night while the Bullets were idle. This will be the first meeting between the two this season. Philadelphia won all six confrontations last season.

Shue hopes a healthy Spencer Haywood will help. Haywood had a 20-point average the first three games, then injured his calf. He missed two games, played little in three others and totaled 14 points.

Greg Ballard at forward has scored at least 20 points in each of the last four games . . . Shue said Kevin Grevey could help relieve some of the problems in the back court, but he is still "two-three weeks away" from being physically able to play . . . After the 76ers game, the Bullets will be off until Wednesday, when they face the San Antonio Spurs at Capital Centre and then start a four-game road trip.