The Washington Bullets are hoping to replace the frustration of a long losing streak with the satisfaction of an equally long winning one.
Because of a 118-97 victory Saturday night over the Philadelphia 76ers that broke their seven-game losing streak and because of an apparently favorable schedule ahead, the Bullets are optimistic. On Tuesday night, they play the Knicks in New York and then return home for games against Cleveland, New York and Chicago.
The three teams' combined record is 11-22. The Knicks have former Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, but little else. They are averaging just 93 points.
Like New York, which has played all season without scoring leader Bernard King, the Bulls have been forced to go without their all-star guard, Michael Jordan, who has been out since the second game of the season because of a broken foot.
The Bullets' 3-7 mark isn't exactly awe-inspiring, but Coach Gene Shue says it's misleading.
"I know this may be hard to believe, but we've had some problems," he said. "The thing is, though, this team has played a lot of good games. We just haven't won."
That has been especially true at Capital Centre. The win over the Sixers was Washington's first at home after four losses. "I think we've played some great games on the road," said Shue. "But how can you have any sort of record when you don't win at home?"
That's why the Bullets got such a lift from Saturday's victory, which provided a glimpse of the promise exhibited during a 5-2 preseason. Playing without center Jeff Ruland, the team lacked an inside scoring threat, but it more than made up for it with a versatile offense.
"Now you can go to practice and build on what we've done, instead of trying to pick out positive things here and there," Shue said.