INDIANAPOLIS, DEC. 1 -- The Washington Bullets will get a pretty good idea of how far they have come with their 2-0 recovery from a 2-8 start when they face the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night at Market Square Arena.
In the midst of a five-game losing streak a week ago, Washington's biggest concern was simply winning any game. They accomplished that with a 101-96 road decision over the Los Angeles Clippers, hardly an NBA power. Saturday's 124-102 home triumph over a very good Detroit Pistons team was impressive for any number of reasons.
The points against Detroit were the most for the Bullets since a 140-139, double-overtime loss to Boston in the second game of the season, Nov. 7. Washington's 53 percent accuracy from the field was a season high, as was its total of 55 rebounds.
Perhaps most important, the Bullets gave themselves something to build upon, and now they can go for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
"The win against Detroit was more important than the one against the Clippers because Detroit's such a good team," said guard Frank Johnson, who practiced without pain and may get his first start in place of slumping rookie Tyrone Bogues. "Since then it's been like night and day. Guys are talking out on the court, helping each other. It's been like a snowball effect, there's a lot more enthusiasm."
The Bullets' increased confidence also was evident against Detroit, as they contrived to avoid the scoring droughts and defensive funks that have seeped into each of their previous outings. One reason was Washington's reserves, who outscored Detroit's, 67-26.
Forward John Williams led the Bullets with 21 points off the bench Saturday, guard Darrell Walker had 20 and Johnson contributed 12 points and seven assists. In the last three games the three have combined for an average of almost 38 points per contest.
"It's just been kind of a steady flow," said Johnson. "Against Detroit, it was like they might be able to go down and score but we'd always be able to get something back right away. Plus we've all been playing very, very good defense."
All of that will be needed against the Pacers, who have given the Bullets fits for the last two seasons, particularly at Market Square Arena. Indiana won four of six games against Washington last season, including three of three here by an average score of 110-100.
The Pacers were one of the more surprising teams in the NBA last season, their first under Coach Jack Ramsay. They made the playoffs for the first time in six years.
The Pacers are led by forward Chuck Person, last season's NBA rookie of the year. Ramsay, like Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery, often gives 10 or 11 players extensive minutes in each game. Center/forward Herb Williams, recently activated from the injured list, in the past has been one of the most effective players against Bullets reserve center Manute Bol.
The Indiana back court has been strengthened by rookie Reggie Miller and second-year pro Scott Skiles. Miller, from UCLA, was coveted by the Bullets in the June draft, but was taken by Indiana with the 11th pick, one spot before Washington. He ranks among the league leaders in field goal percentage and three-point field goal accuracy.
Skiles was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1986 first round but sat out most of his rookie season with back trouble.
Besides trying to rise from the middle of the NBA pack, the Bullets and Pacers have had in common difficult early schedules.
Wednesday's contest will be the Bullets' ninth road game in 13 starts. Only the Pistons have played as many games away from home, although the Pacers are just behind with eight.