BALTIMORE, OCT. 30 -- Welcomed home by an appreciative crowd, 5-foot-3 Tyrone Bogues made a strong bid to become the Washington Bullets' starting point guard. And off-guard Jeff Malone reestablished himself as one of the NBA's best perimeter shooters. But the Bullets remained winless in five preseason games, falling tonight to the Atlanta Hawks, 93-88.

Lacking first-team players Moses Malone and Jay Vincent, the Bullets played their starters most of the night. The team still drew within 88-87 with 1:50 left in the game. But it went cold, coming up with just John Williams' free throw.

Jeff Malone led all scorers with 32 points in the game, played before a crowd of 10,802. Bogues, a graduate of nearby Dunbar High, had six points and 12 assists. Atlanta's 5-7 reserve guard, Spud Webb, led his team with 15 points, one more than forward Kevin Willis. Atlanta forward Dominique Wilkins, the NBA's second leading scorer last season, missed the game because of a hip injury.

Did Bogues win a starting job?

"We haven't committed to that yet," Coach Kevin Loughery said. "But it looks like he can handle the situation; he sees the floor and handles the ball so well -- he could have had 20 assists tonight."

The most electric sequence of the night was the last seven minutes of the third quarter. After missing his first four shots of the night, Bogues scored on two jumpers. Shortly thereafter, Webb entered the game.

From that point the game became an ever-changing blur as the two diminutive creators matched pass for pass and made one outstanding athletic play after another. Almost fittingly, the Bullets had trimmed onlytwo points from their 49-42 halftime deficit, trailing, 72-67, at the end of the quarter. Bogues had six points and four assists in the quarter, Webb four and two.

The game came down to the last five minutes, and once again Bogues and Webb were controlling the action for their teams from the point. Atlanta led by 84-78, increasing its lead by another two on rookie forward Dallas Comegys' layup.

As they have throughout the preseason, the Bullets rallied. Forward Terry Catledge scored three straight points and reserve Jay Murphy scored four to help bring the Bullets within one. However, just as in their earlier games, the Bullets were unable to get over the top for good, missing shot after shot.

"We just didn't shoot the ball well," said Loughery, reciting a familiar refrain. "Especially with the people we have out, we do have some weaknesses there. We do have the answers, though. One wasn't here tonight, but the points are coming."

He meant forward Bernard King. The NBA's leading scorer in the 1984-85 season, King will miss Saturday's game in New York against the New Jersey Nets but Sunday will officially join the Bullets.

Pacers 110, Bucks 104:

In Indianapolis, Chuck Person made a three-point shot to end the first period, ending a 13-point spurt that helped Indiana win an exhibition.

Celtics 109, Jazz 95:

In Provo, Utah, Larry Bird scored 28 points and former Brigham Young star Danny Ainge had 21 to enable the Boston Celtics to lead from start to finish before a capacity crowd of 22,792 at Brigham Young's Marriott Center. It was homecoming for three former BYU players: Ainge, Fred Roberts and Greg Kite.

The crowd, which at times favored the Celtics, was the largest ever to see an NBA preseason exhibition.

Ainge had five of the Celtics' first 10 points as the team took a 10-6 lead and never looked back. They led by 31-24 after one quarter, 61-46 at halftime and 85-76 after three quarters.