Washington Bullets forward Terry Catledge spent Monday night in the hospital as a precautionary measure and was released yesterday after suffering what is now being described as bad whiplash in a traffic accident early Sunday morning near his home in Mississippi.

Catledge, the Bullets' second leading rebounder and fourth leading scorer last season, suffered "a flexion extention injury to the cervical spine," according to Dr. Tom McDonald of the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

Dr. McDonald originally had diagnosed the injury as a hairline fracture of a bone in Catledge's neck, but more extensive X-rays taken Monday indicated there was no fracture. "Basically, what he's got is the same as what we used to call whiplash," said McDonald, adding again that there was no damage to Catledge's nerves or spinal cord.

McDonald said Catledge was expected to come to Washington in the next two days to be examined by Bullets team physician Steve Haas, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

Catledge was one of three passengers in a one-vehicle accident that occurred about 2:50 a.m. Sunday. State Highway Patrol officials said a 1987 Ford Bronco was traveling at an excessive speed when the driver, Michael Evans, lost control of the vehicle.

The car left Mississippi Rte. 8, overturned several times and landed upside down.

One of the passengers, 22-year-old Ricky Cooper, Catledge's cousin, was killed in the accident.

Catledge said he would dedicate his career to Cooper. "I wouldn't play another second of basketball if I could have Ricky back," Catledge told the Associated Press.