The Washington Bullets tonight lost their eighth straight game, 111-104, to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite another defeat, Coach Gene Shue was optimistic, saying he "saw some encouraging things out there."
"In the first half, we played better than we had in a while, and I think the lineup change had something to do with it. We got good production out of Charlie Davis; offensively we were better, and overall, our players did a decent job."
"They really are a patient ball club," Sidney Moncrief said of the Bullets. Moncrief scored 20 points for the Bucks, who were led by Marques Johnson with a season-high 35.
Shue said his team's game plan was to get Moncrief in foul trouble early, and he was called for two in the first quarter and four overall. "He does everything so well for them," Shue said.
But it was Johnson who did the most damage, with 10 rebounds to go with his 35 points. Ten points came during the second quarter, when the Bullets were pushing to maintain enough pace to catch Milwaukee.
"We expected a very hard ball game from them," Moncrief said. "We didn't really get going until that third quarter, playing the way we should."
Indeed, according to Shue, the real turning point came during the beginning of the third quarter, when "Milwaukee came out and hit all those shots. (In contrast) we came out a bit slow, so when they did that, I think it had some effect."
The Bucks led by three points at intermission, but Davis tied the game for the Bullets early in the second half at 58, on a pass from Rick Mahorn, plus a free throw after a foul by Junior Bridgeman. Bridgeman and Johnson then scored two baskets apiece and the Bullets were down by eight.
Spencer Haywood had two three-second violations and Frank Johnson was called for two offensive fouls. When guard Chubby Cox got one, Shue, obviously frustrated, was called for a technical.
The Bullets trailed by 10 at the end of the third quarter, but Milwaukee came back in the final period to lead by 15 midway through the half when Charlie Criss made a 22-foot jumper.
Asked if his team was pressing too hard because of the long losing streak, Shue said, "I think we're over that now. I've emphasized all along that we just have to go out and play. This is a fun game; it's supposed to be, and you can't worry about missed shots."