Trying to get their new running game on track, the Washington Bullets sputtered more often than they clicked tonight and were defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-94, in an exhibition game before 6,251 in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Although the overall performance of Coach Gene Shue's club was ragged, there were some bright moments in its first preseason game, thanks to newcomers Gus Williams and Cliff Robinson.
Williams missed all his five shots in the first half and was limited to two points, but got the running game going in the third period.
Playing the transition game that has been his trademark, he scored 13 points in the quarter to get the Bullets back in the game. His three-point play narrowed a 14-point halftime deficit to 64-60, and his long, off-balance bank shot at the end of the period made it 80-72. But he didn't play in the fourth quarter and the 76ers easily put the away Bullets.
"Its a matter of repetition and getting our timing down," said Williams, traded by Seattle during the offseason. "We're trying to eliminate some plays by running the ball up. If the break isn't there, then we'll go to the big guys inside. They're the bread and butter.
"There's nothing in particular that I have to do to get adjusted. We're still in the early stages and we just have to show improvement each time out. Another couple of weeks will help us. The talent is here -- it's just a matter of blending a unit that can play well together."
Robinson, the 6-foot-10 forward obtained from Cleveland, might make the Bullets forget about holdout Greg Ballard. His 10 points in the second quarter kept the Bullets from being completely blown out, and he finished with a game-high 17 points plus seven rebounds.
"I've been doing a lot of learning this week, but I feel very comfortable out there," he said. "Coach Shue has helped me tremendously with my defense and I'm trying to concentrate more on my free throws.
"It's too early to tell what my role will be. I'm just going to stay within my game. At this point, it doesn't matter if I start or come off the bench."
Shue started Darren Daye in Ballard's spot and the second-year pro had a respectable game with 11 points, but only one rebound. Robinson played mostly in Jeff Ruland's power forward spot, but appears to have the quickness to play small forward also.
Besides Robinson, Williams and Daye, no other Bullet was in double figures as Shue used 15 players. Ruland managed nine points and eight rebounds.
The 76ers took a 35-18 lead after the first period and had little trouble after that. Moses Malone led their effort with 14 points. Andrew Toney had 13, Clemon Johnson 12, Marc Iavaroni 11 and Julius Erving and Wes Matthews nine each.