Larry Bird scored 47 points, including a basket as time expired, to give the Boston Celtics a 140-139 double overtime victory over the Washington Bullets last night at Captial Centre before a sellout crowd of 18,643.

The buzzer-beater lifted the Celtics' record to 2-0 and was the last of a number of dramatic shots scored by the all-pro forward.

With four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bird hit a three-point field goal to tie the game at 119 and force the first overtime. With four seconds left in that period, he hit two free throws to put the Celtics ahead, 131-129, but Washington was able to tie the game on a long jumper by guard Darrell Walker with two seconds left.

Following a Boston timeout after the free throws, Bird barely missed a three-point attempt that he took while falling into the scorers' table.

"I thought that shot was going in," Bird said after the game. "You never know, you just get a shot and hope that it goes in."

Washington, 0-2 in the young season, seemed poised for its first victory this season when center Moses Malone scored on a running one-hander with two seconds left in the second overtime. However, after a Celtics' timeout, guard Danny Ainge hit Bird, who had eluded Washington's Charles Jones before connecting on the shot.

"I wasn't trying to direct him to any particular place," said Jones. "I wanted to force him out of the post, but they set a pick and I couldn't get too close . . . .The guy made a good pass -- he just shot the ball well all night."

With 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bird hit another three-point field goal that was wiped out when Celtics Coach K.C. Jones called for a timeout just before the basketball was inbounded. Ironically, the coach was again signaling to stop play before Bird took the eventual game-winner.

"I'm glad he didn't hear me," said Jones.

Bird obviously wasn't the only player to excel during the game. Ainge had 12 assists and 28 points, including an 18-foot jumper to tie the game at 133 and a three-point field goal to give the Celtics a 138-135 lead with 1:10 to play. Dennis Johnson, his partner in the Boston backcourt, tied his career high with 17 assists.

The word shootout is one that has rarely been used in conjunction with Bullets' games in recent seasons. However, by the end of the 1987-88 campaign, it might become as familiar as the perspiration from Moses Malone's brow, a Jeff Malone jump shot or Bernard King's myriad offensive moves.

Last night, Washington's all-star center had 32 points and 13 rebounds. Jeff Malone added 27 points, two more than King. There were also significant contributions from reserve forward John Williams, who had 16 points and seven rebounds, and Walker.

"There's nothing you can say, nothing you can do except give the man {Bird} his due," said Walker, who sat in a heap on the Bullets' locker room floor. "He can play basketball, it's as simple as that. I'm just glad I had a chance to participate in the game -- it was a classic."

Taking the counterpoint, Bird said that he'd "never seen so many guys make so many mistakes, it seemed everything came tough for us."

That wasn't quite true. During the game, Boston scored 58 of its points on layups and dunks, a reflection of Washington's reliance on 7-foot-6 center Manute Bol, who missed the game with a sprained left knee.

Then again, the Celtics -- missing 6-10 all-star forward Kevin McHale and 6-11 center Bill Walton -- didn't exactly take advantage of their hosts' largesse.

"It was really a bizarre game," said Jones. "The last end of the overtime periods, last-second shots, it was a really weird game. The whole game we couldn't hold leads, we kept letting them back in it."

Apart from their final lead in the waning seconds, Washington's best opportunity to win perhaps came during regulation. With 2:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bullets led by 114-108 after a fast-break layup by King. With 1:55 left, the forward stole a Bird pass and fed Williams but the second-year player lost the ball to Johnson while trying to dribble through the lane.

That led to two free throws by Bird. On their subsequent possession, Williams lost the ball out of bounds after falling in the Bullets' backcourt. That miscue was converted into a layup by center Robert Parish, making the score 114-112, Bullets, with 1:13 remaining.

Washington regained a four-point advantage on a short jumper by King, but Boston tied the game on baskets by Bird and Ainge, the last coming with eight seconds left.

The Bullets then took a timeout. Inbounding the ball at midcourt, Williams threw a crosscourt pass to Walker, who merely tipped the ball over to Moses Malone, who dunked it and was fouled by former Bullet Darren Daye. The free throw gave the home team its 119-116 lead, a margin shattered when Bird hit a floating shot, taken off one foot from just outside the three-point line.

"You're just trying to get your position," Bird said. "You know the defensive player can't foul you -- what you're trying to do is just get open and take your shot." BOSTON Min FG FT R A PF T Bird 53 19-29 8-10 8 7 2 47 Roberts 34 6-13 4-4 3 1 4 16 Parrish 41 8-15 1-2 13

Three-point goals -- Bird, Ainge. Steals -- Boston 7 (Bird, Johnson 2), Washington 13 (Walker 4). Turnovers

A -- 18,643