After the Washington Bullets had defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 105-104, on Wednesday night, Charles Jones sat in the Bullets' locker room with pencil and notepad in hand. Scribbling furiously, the 6-foot-9 forward smiled when asked if he were making an entry into his diary.
"Nope, I'm just writing down the schedule for tomorrow," he said. "Just trying to keep on top of things."
He had done just that against the Spurs in the Bullets' first victory away from the Capital Centre in more than a month. Playing 15 minutes on Wednesday, he turned in a performance worth writing home about.
The team's newest acquisition scored six points, had four rebounds and blocked three shots. In the process, he effectively put Washington, now 29-27 for the season, in a position to win on Dudley Bradley's three-point shot with six seconds left in the game.
That's because the Bullets' other big men, Rick Mahorn, Tom McMillen and Cliff Robinson, were all in foul trouble, and Shue had to use Jones.
In the second quarter, Jones had three blocks on successive San Antonio shots. A short time later the Albany State product scored his first points in a Bullets' uniform, dunking an alley-oop pass.
Shue clearly recognized the hustle and intimidation factor Jones provided. "He did an outstanding job for us," said the coach. "He definitely will get more playing time. I'm glad we picked him up."
Ever since he joined the team at the beginning of Washington's six-game, two-week road trip, Jones has tried to go with the flow and avoid anything flashy. That's the nature of the entire family, an attitude best epitomized by older brother Caldwell. Now a member of the Chicago Bulls, Caldwell Jones was the easygoing role player on the great Philadelphia 76ers' teams of the late '70s. Jones so closely resembles Caldwell that the Bullets' players call him CJ, Caldwell's nickname.
But working on a 10-day contract as Charles is, it's hard to do anything but try to blend in. The 10-day contract is one of the biggest come-ons in sports. Over that period of time, a newcomer is asked to step in without prior knowledge of a team's system and try to earn a living.
More often than not, the player never sees the light of day out on the floor. And, because of the frequency of games, doesn't even get the opportunity to learn or show his stuff in practice.
For example, Chris Engler a 7-foot center who was cut by Golden State in the preseason, recently signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. This came two weeks after a 10-day pact with the Bulls ended, which came after a similar deal with New Jersey ended.
But in one sense, Jones has been lucky. He joined the Bullets when the team had a number of days free for practice, giving him a chance to pick up some of Washington's nuances. There also were numerous injuries along the front line, the situation that brought him to the Bullets in the first place.
"I'm not going to come in and try to do anything spectacular," he said after arriving in Seattle from the Tampa Bay Thrillers of the Continental Basketball Association. "All you can do is try and provide something that the team needs, something that lets them continue to do what has been working for them."
Jeff Ruland shot at one end of the floor while the Bullets worked on San Antonio's plays Wednesday. Although he shot very well, the center said that "shooting isn't the problem . . . . I've been able to shoot for a month. The problem comes when I have to reach up for a quick rebound." Ruland, who had hoped to play at some point on the trip, thinks he'll have to wait until the Bullets return home next week.