The Washington Bullets will go after their sixth straight home-court victory at Capital Centre when they face the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 7:30. Considering his team also has a six-game road losing streak, is it any wonder Coach Gene Shue complains about lack of consistency?
"We've got to build some consistency. That's our biggest problem right now," he said yesterday. "Going into a game, we should have a good idea of how many points we're going to get and how many we'll probably give up. But I couldn't tell what the numbers will be (tonight)."
For example, the Bullets scored a season-high 133 points to beat the Detroit Pistons Saturday, but failed to reach 100 at Dallas or San Antonio in losses earlier in the week.
According to Shue, one factor in the team's wild variation in point totals is players missing practice.
During yesterday's workout at Bowie State College, Jeff Ruland and Dan Roundfield were spectators. Ruland nursed a sore knee and Roundfield still was hobbled by the sore toe that has bothered him the better part of two weeks. Both figure to play against Portland.
"Every coach in the league will tell you that it's murder when you don't have your entire group to work with in practices," said Shue. "I don't know the last time both Jeff and Dan practiced. Now is the time to get together and do things like build on our defense; instead, it's hard to get anything done at all."
Ruland said he was kicked in the left knee at some point during Saturday's victory and "when I woke up the next morning it was swollen pretty badly. If it's not one thing I guess it's another."
The center, who missed two games last month because of a bruised left shin, was examined yesterday afternoon by team doctors, who could only find a bruise slightly above the knee.
The NBA schedule-makers have given the Bullets somewhat of a reprieve from their road woes over the next month. In December, Washington is at home for nine of 13 games. And, after tonight's game, only three will be with opponents currently at .500 or better.
The four road games are against Philadelphia on Wednesday, Detroit, Chicago and New Jersey.
Washington lost a protested 124-122 overtime game to Detroit Nov. 12, the Bullets appealing to NBA headquarters over an officiating decision. A ruling from Commissioner David Stern is expected this week.