Perhaps Washington Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery could be excused if a small smile creases his lips. For perhaps the first time in a tumultuous early season, his team has put together three consistently good efforts, winning two of them.

If such efforts continue, Washington would be in good position to improve on its 6-13 record, for a favorable schedule has the team playing 11 of its next 13 games at home in Capital Centre. First up: the Boston Celtics, Tuesday night.

"We just can't keep saying that we've got a good team on paper, we have to show it, go on a winning streak," said center Moses Malone, following the Bullets' 122-107 Saturday night victory at New Jersey.

Malone was instrumental in the upswing that began after a disheartening 24-point loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday. The next night the Bullets faltered but hung on to beat the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in overtime and they followed with a strong, albeit losing effort on the road against Detroit Friday.

In their last three games the Bullets have hit 136 of 261 shots, a 52 percent mark that has pulled their previously atrocious season average up to 43 percent. The Bullets had been one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA but held their own in that area, too, trailing by only 129-122.

The triumph over the Nets was the second time Washington has won on the road this season after playing the night before. In the 1986-87 season, the Bullets didn't accomplish that feat until Feb. 17, with a 114-99 surprise over the Lakers at the Forum.

Center Malone and swing man John Williams had big nights against the Lakers in that game, and both also have played a large role in Washington's recent good fortune. Williams averaged almost 16 points and four rebounds in the three games; Malone, looking decidedly improved from even a week ago, averaged 21 points and seven rebounds.

"I think I can help the team when I'm more involved," Malone said. "Not only by shooting, just by touching the ball. Then, with people like Bernard King and Jeff Malone, teams can't think about double-teaming me. If one man guards me close I can go around him; if he stays back I can hit the jumper. We've got three great scorers together here, we just have to jell."

The move to play King off the bench has seemed to help the Bullets for a variety of reasons. Terry Catledge, his replacement in the starting lineup, averaged 18 points an 10 rebounds in the last three games and gave the team a forceful physical presence.

King, at small forward, has prospered by becoming the focal point of the offense when he's on the floor with the Bullets' second unit. In virtually each of the five games played since the switch was made, King has had an impressive run of points during his time on the court.

That was climaxed by his 32-point, seven-rebound, four-assist gem against the Nets. More than anyone else on the Bullets, with the possible exception of rookie guard Tyrone Bogues, King has benefited from Washington's better rebounding.

"My game is predicated on running," he said. "You can't run if you don't rebound. Against the Nets we rebounded. Against the better teams in the league, we haven't protected the backboards defensively so we haven't been able to run."

The paucity of easy baskets made it that much tougher for all the Bullets to get shots off consistently in the half-court game. The move to Catledge was made to help get him the basketball, although King bristled at moving to the bench.

"It's up to the coach to determine who's in the starting rotation and what's best for the team," he said. "That was decided a long time ago, by now it's a moot point.

"If this team is going to be successful, all 12 guys need to be clicking. We've played well {recently}, but we need to keep it in the proper perspective. We're nowhere where we need to be right now."