Something was certainly lacking for the Washington Bullets tonight during their embarrassing 117-96 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Convention Center Arena. Speed.

And no one recognized this more than Bullets Coach Gene Shue.

"We are really struggling with the injury bug," said Shue, whose team has lost five straight games.

Gone from the Washington roster are guards Frank Johnson, who has been on the injured list with a fractured right ankle, and Don Collins, who has a stress fracture on his left foot.

But even their speed might not have been enough to help Washington's offense tonight. The Bullets made only 42 of 102 shots from the field for a 41.4 percentage. It was their 13th straight game shooting below 50 percent.

"I guess that we're basically in an overall slump," said Greg Ballard, who scored 16 points. "It's just something that teams have during the regular season.

"I think it's something that can be cured. We just have to believe in ourselves, get tough on defense and execute on offense."

George Gervin led the Spurs with 31 points, including 10 straight at one point in the third period.

Mike Mitchell had 22, Gene Bamks 19 and center Artis Gilmore 17 to go along with 17 rebounds.

"We need Frankie (Johnson) and Don," said Ruland after the game. "We're just not getting enough speed in the lineup. I probably could have played a little better, but I was in foul trouble."

Washington played the Spurs close for just over a quarter, trailing, 26-24, after the first period and 36-34 with 7:08 left in the first half. But Gilmore and Gervin combined for 15 of San Antonio's final 19 points before intermission and the Spurs led, 53-43.

Gervin then made 14 third-quarter points, including his streak of 10, to help San Antonio to a 85-69 lead going into the final period.