The Washington Bullets' journey is over. Tonight, they set foot on the forgotten land of Capital Centre to play the New Jersey Nets in their first home game in 18 days.
Coach Gene Shue yesterday praised the Bullets' performance on a seven-game road trip that ended 3-4 with Saturday's 110-102 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I think it was a very successful trip," Shue said. "It's tough being on the road all that time. To have won three of those games is quite positive."
Washington has won two of three from New Jersey this season. While the Bullets are becoming healthier, the Nets' ailments are mounting: starting center Darryl Dawkins (pulled groin) and forward Mike O'Koren (strained knee) are out; forward Albert King (sprained ankle) is expected to play.
Washington forward Jeff Ruland recovered sufficiently from intestinal flu and nagging ankle problems to play a team-high 39 minutes against Cleveland.
The Nets have lost eight of their last 11 games but remain in third place in the Atlantic Division, three games ahead of Washington. They defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by 15 points Friday night, then lost by 29 in Atlanta Saturday when they scored 36 first-half points.
"We have to stop them from running with the ball," Shue said. "We have to control the pace."
But that won't ensure victory. In Philadelphia Friday, Washington played deliberately but lost to the 76ers, 97-87. In their last two games, the Bullets have lost leads in the third quarter, when they've been outscored by a combined 56-32.
"We haven't been shooting real well," Shue said. "For most of the trip, we weren't getting good scoring out of the back court, but that changed against Cleveland."