The Chicago Bulls, another of the NBA's weaker teams, ended their four-game losing streak last night with a 95-86 victory over the Washington Bullets before 5,769 at Capital Centre.
The Bullets never led. They did rally in the fourth period to cut a 16-point deficit to two points before fading and losing their ninth straight.
The streak is the longest for the team since it lost nine in a row in the 1971-72 season. The Bullets' all-time losing streak is 13, set in the 1966-67 season.
In this slump, the Bullets have lost to Cleveland twice and Houston, as well as Chicago, three of the worst teams in the league. Awaiting them are consecutive games against the Boston Celtics--Monday at Capital Centre and Wednesday at Boston Garden.
"We can't even beat the bad teams, so what kind of chance do you think we have against the good ones?" said Washington Coach Gene Shue.
Chicago guard Reggie Theus was virtually a one-man show against the Bullets, finishing with 31 points, six assists and four steals.
While the Bullets were trying to execute precise plays to get 15-foot shots, the Bulls ran up and down the floor, shooting at will. They made 53 percent of their shots, the Bullets 38 percent.
Rookie Quintin Dailey scored four points and Dave Corzine, the former Bullets center, had two in a 6-0 spurt that broke the Bulls away from a tie at 10. The Bullets weren't much of a threat thereafter. Everytime they mustered any sort of rally, Chicago beat it back.
The Bullets cut an 11-point lead to six in the second period, but Dailey made a 70-foot three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Bulls a 53-44 lead.
Dailey's roommate, rookie Rod Higgins, made back-to-back jumpers late in the third period to give the Bulls a 16-point lead.
The Bulls were still ahead by 14 early in the final period when they hit a dry spell and the Bullets got back in the game.
A 12-2 spurt, with Greg Ballard and Rick Mahorn scoring four points apiece, cut the lead to 81-77 with 5:27 remaining, as the Bulls were rattled by the Bullets' full-court pressure.
Every time Chicago needed a basket, though, Theus made one.
Frank Johnson made two free throws to cut the lead to 85-81, and then after Dailey fumbled the ball out of bounds, Carlos Terry made a corner jumper to cut Chicago's lead to 85-83 with three minutes left.
The Bulls turned to Theus. Double-teamed along the left base line he made a miraculous turnaround jumper off the glass with his left (off) hand that did in the Bullets. They missed their next three shots and, after being fouled by Mahorn, David Greenwood made two free throws to get Chicago's lead back to six points with two minutes remaining. The Bullets never got closer than four points after that.
Ballard was high scorer for the Bullets with 19 points. The defense forced 30 Chicago turnovers that the Bullets converted into 27 points, but it still wasn't enough to offset Theus.
The 6-foot-7 guard went into the game as the league's fourth-leading scorer with a 26.2 average and scored in virtually every way imaginable.
"I've had the opportunity to open my game up in our system," he said, "and that's what I'm all about. When I get going, I can get my teammates going, too."
Shue was impressed.
"What Theus did was just catch the ball, look at the basket and either shoot it and make it or drive by his man and make a layup," he said. "It must be great to have a player like that. I wish I had one."