The Bullets' problem seems simple, even if the solution is not. "We are an injured team," said Coach Gene Shue, adding, "We're not very deep to begin with."

Shue's team was 17-14 five games ago, but with guards Frank Johnson and Don Collins on the injured list, the team has lacked speed. Saturday night, the Bullets lost their fifth straight, 117-96, to the San Antonio Spurs.

"It's the first time in a long time that we've had our running game going," said San Antonio Coach Stan Albeck.

"When you're injured, it's a question of putting in players," said Shue. "If someone is having a bad night, we don't have any substitutes to replace him. If you look at our roster, you will see that."

Tuesday night, the Bullets visit the Houston Rockets, who have the worst record in the National Basketball Association. But at this point, Washington can take nothing for granted.

Besides lacking speed, the Bullets are in a shooting slump that has spanned 13 games. That's how long it's been since they have shot better than 50 percent from the field.

"Plus Spencer Haywood has not been playing like he was last year," Shue said. "He's had a number of injuries that have really hurt."

Against the Spurs, Jeff Ruland was the Bullets' scoring leader with 17 points and Greg Ballard had 16. Newly signed Chubby Cox, who came from the Continental Basketball Association, was the only other Bullet in double figures, with 10 points.

"Some of our players are not shooting well," Shue said. "And if we don't get production from (Kevin) Grevey and Ballard, who do you put in?

"We just don't have the people to fill those two roles."

Grevey, who made only three of 13 shots against San Antonio and finished with seven points, said the answer is to keep trying.

"Physically, I feel real good," said Grevey, who is averaging three points fewer per game than last season at 10.1. "But I have been struggling with my shooting all year.

"It used to be one out of five games was bad, but now it seems that they are all going bad. The only way to correct this is to keep shooting."