MILWAUKEE, NOV. 10 -- By the end of the third quarter tonight, Milwaukee center Randy Breuer had virtually matched his career highs in scoring and rebounding. By the end of that period, the Bucks had stretched a four-point halftime lead to 24. All of which perhaps covers everything one needs to know about the Washington Bullets' third straight loss this NBA season, a 115-100 decision.

Breuer, who used to be merely bench strength for the Bucks, is a starter now, and the 7-foot-3 fifth-year pro had 22 points and 14 rebounds at the game's 36-minute mark.

Taking a 93-69 advantage into the final period, the Bucks coasted in, Breuer ending with those 22 points, one shy of his career game, and 16 rebounds, one more than his previous best.

Paul Pressey had 24 points to lead the Bucks (2-1). Jeff Malone had 18 for Washington, and Moses Malone 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Unlike Atlanta and Boston, the Bullets' previous conquerors, the Bucks are no longer considered one of the elite teams. Surely Breuer isn't a premier player, but then again, thus far in the young season, anyone tall enough to man the pivot against the Bullets has been close to an all-pro.

That's largely because Washington has been without 7-6 reserve center Manute Bol, their only consistent shot blocker. His absence has allowed opponents to play patty-cake above the rim with the basketball.

Things below the rim haven't been so great, either. It's hard to say what the most discouraging sight of the night was, Breuer driving down the lane for an uncontested dunk, or a missed Milwaukee shot being rebounded by 6-3 point guard John Lucas, who just happened to be walking through the lane when the ball fell into his hands.

Throughout the night, there were few sights pleasing to Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery.

"It was like a schoolyard game," he said, "where the big guys come out and say 'Just throw up the ball, we'll tip it in and win the game.' We had one rebound from our guards in the first half -- and Muggsy (5-3 point guard Tyrone Bogues) had it. In the first half, we had {the Bucks} with 21 offensive rebounds. The stat sheet said 16 but the guy at the scorer's table wasn't quick enough."

Even if Bol could have played, it was obvious that the Bullets would be at a height disadvantage. Besides Breuer, the Bucks started 7-foot Jack Sikma at power forward and 6-9 Terry Cummings at small forward. The Bullets put 6-10 Moses Malone on Sikma, but that left 6-8 Terry Catledge trying to check Breuer and 6-7 Bernard King on Cummings.

The game was tied at 26 after one quarter but Breuer had already contributed an ominous 10 points and seven rebounds. Those numbers had increased to 14 and 10 as the Bucks took a 59-55 halftime lead. That margin would have been seven were it not for a 52-foot heave by Bogues that went through the basket at the buzzer. And, according to Loughery, that wasn't the only place his team lucked out.

"We were very fortunate that we weren't down major points in the first half," he said. "They only shot 40 percent but they got 58 shots to our 41. That and those offensive rebounds were all you need to know."

Any lingering hopes that the Bullets had of sneaking away with a win evaporated in a 12-0 run by the Bucks during the middle of the third quarter. Guard Jerry Reynolds scored on two consecutive drives down the lane. Following a timeout, the heretofore seldom-used player scored yet another layup. That was followed by a steal and dunk by Pressey and two fast-break dunks by Breuer to push the score to 83-63.

"That's what we want him to do, attack the basket," said Bucks Coach Del Harris. "This is the fulfillment of expectations. Sometimes it's hard for a nonaggressive person to come out of that on the court, but he's been able to do it."

"I've worked hard to get better but I was never incorporated into the offense," said Breuer. "Last year, there was one offensive play for the center. This year almost all our plays have a look inside -- now the focus is inside out."

That's something that certainly makes sense against Washington, which even with Bol is one of the smallest teams in the NBA.

"Physically we're probably going to be smaller than any team we play against so we all have to do our part to rebound," said King. "We all have to get back and box out. Having a reputation as a team that gives up their defensive boards isn't something you want to have. Something like that will spread around the league and it'll happen every night."

Certainly the Philadelphia 76ers must be licking their lips in anticipation of Wednesday night's game against the Bullets at Capital Centre. That might change, though, if Bol can make his first appearance.

The man from Sudan has undergone therapy the last two days and is scheduled to be examined by team physicians Wednesday morning. Loughery said Bol is in less pain than he was previously, perhaps a good sign for the Bullets.

Perhaps another: the Bullets cut their 24-point final-period deficit to 13 with about five minutes left, as Frank Johnson got his first extensive work this season at guard and scored 11 points.