For the first time in 20 days, the Washington Bullets will play a game at Capital Centre tonight.

They are hoping it will make a difference.

Since the Bullets beat Houston here, Feb. 10, they have lost five of six on the road and fallen into last place in the Atlantic Division and into eighth place in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association.

Only the top six teams in the conference are eligible for the playoffs.

And, tonight's opponents at 8:05 are the Milwaukee Bucks, the team with the fourth-best record in the league. Also, the weary Bullets aren't in good physical condition.

Jeff Ruland, who became a starter four games ago, scored 31, 31 and 37 points before he injured his leg in Denver and was held to 19.

Ruland was kicked in the left calf in the first quarter of that game and, after sitting out most of the half, limped through the last two quarters. His leg still was very sore yesterday and he didn't practice. He is listed as questionable for tonight's game.

If Ruland can't play, either Dave Batton or Spencer Haywood most likely will start in his place.

Small forwards Greg Ballard and Charles Davis are also ailing. Ballard left practice early with back spasms and Davis still is bothered by muscle spasms in his neck that caused him to miss two games on the trip. The Bullets said both Ballard and Davis probably will play against the Bucks.

Injuries are nothing new to the Bucks. They have been badly hurt by them. But because of their versatility their makeshift lineups have been able to hold their own.

Milwaukee will have to play without center Bob Lanier and forward Dave Cowens for most of the rest of the regular season. Both have knee injuries; Lanier is on the injured list and Cowens is in a cast. Steve Mix has been starting for Cowens and Alton Lister for Lanier.

Junior Bridgeman missed the last game with a sprained ankle and is questionable tonight.

This is the last of four games on the road for the Bucks, who have won two in a row. Their stars are forward Marques Johnson and guard Sidney Moncrief. Moncrief, averaging 23 points a game, has averaged 31 in the last three games and Johnson, with a 22.7 season's average, has averaged 26 those three.

This is the third game of the season between the Bullets and Bucks. Each team has won at home.

It is also the start of a six-game stretch in which the Bullets will play five times at home. Their only game away this week is at Atlanta Thursday, then they return to Capital Centre Friday to play the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.