Trying to shake off their eighth double-digit loss this season, the Washington Bullets will play the Indiana Pacers tonight at Capital Centre, starting at 7:30.
After winning two of their previous three games, the Bullets ran into what assistant coach Wes Unseld called "a buzzsaw," Tuesday night and lost, 122-102, to the Boston Celtics.
The Pacers are in fifth place in the NBA's Central Division, although their 11-9 record is only a game worse than that of Boston, which leads the Atlantic Division.
For Washington (6-14) to get back on the winning track against the Pacers, it has to "keep them off the offensive boards," assistant coach Bill Blair said. "We can't let them get cheap baskets."
More important, he said, "we really have to just play well ourselves. I thought we played decently hard against Boston; you knew a team that caliber that had lost a couple, they'd be playing hard. After we fell behind, every time we tried to come back they just raised their game a notch."
Blair and Unseld conducted the Bullets' brief workout yesterday at Bowie State College. Coach Kevin Loughery missed the session so he could be with his mother-in-law, who sustained a back injury in a freak accident during the Bullets-Celtics game. A fan fell on top of her while reaching for one of the miniature, plastic basketballs that are thrown into the stands during each game.
The Bullets entered Tuesday night's game with high hopes. Part of the reason for their recent victories was solid field goal shooting (51 percent in their three games prior to Tuesday night's). They maintained that standard against Boston, connecting on 51 percent of their shots. However, the Celtics, who had 21 offensive rebounds, took 16 more shots than Washington did.
In their previous home game -- a 120-112 overtime victory over the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers -- the Bullets held advantages in field goal attempts and offensive rebounds. Tuesday night, though, Loughery said Boston "really played terrific -- much better than L.A. did when they were here."
That was a switch of sorts for the Celtics, who had been struggling. They had lost three straight games and five of six while trying to work forward Kevin McHale back into the lineup.
"It seemed like every night recently, one or two players from the other team would have a career night in points or rebounds or assists against us," said guard Danny Ainge, who scored 12 of his 20 points against the Bullets by making four of seven three-point field goal attempts.
Indiana has another of the NBA's best long-distance shooters in rookie guard Reggie Miller. The former UCLA star has made 20 three-point field goals and is currently on a pace to set the category's rookie record.
That mark is held by the Celtics' Larry Bird, who made 58 three-pointers in the 1979-80 season. The league mark for all players is held by Utah guard Darrell Griffith, who hit 97 three-pointers in 1984-85.