By yesterday afternoon, all vestiges of Wes Unseld's successful debut as the coach of the Washington Bullets -- the telegrams, balloons, fruit baskets and bouquets of flowers -- had been removed from his cramped office at Bowie State College. The honeymoon might truly be over tonight, when the Bullets play the Boston Celtics at Boston Garden.

Washington's 117-109 victory Dec. 6, 1986, at the Celtics' home away from home in Hartford, Conn., barely counts -- the last time the Bullets won on the Garden's parquet floor was March 14, 1984. That was barely three years after Unseld's retirement as a player.

"Obviously there's a little difference between Boston and the Nets," Unseld said yesterday afternoon. "But we'll be ready; hopefully we'll play the same way against them we did against New Jersey {in a 101-97 victory Tuesday}. You want to play against everybody the same way."

With a 20-9 record, the Celtics are in control of the Atlantic Division, mainly because they're the only team above .500. Forwards Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and center Robert Parish are virtual locks for next month's all-star game. Guard Danny Ainge set a record Wednesday by making a three-point field goal in his 13th consecutive game. In Boston's victory Monday over the Utah Jazz, Ainge hit six of the long-distance baskets.

However, the win was marred by an injury to guard Jerry Sichting. The eight-year veteran, who is averaging 4.1 points and 2.5 assists per game sustained torn cartilage in his right knee. He is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery today, according to a club spokesman.

Unseld said the Bullets' lineup probably won't change for the game against Boston, admitting that "there probably wouldn't be a big difference who I put in against Bird or McHale." But, just as he made Tyrone Bogues and Bernard King starters Tuesday to liven things up, Unseld said he wouldn't be hesitant to make other changes.

"I didn't want anyone to get locked into the idea of starting just for the sake of being a starter," Unseld said. "If I think a switch will give us an edge, I'll use it. This team needs every edge it can get."

What the Bullets really could use is a few more games against New Jersey. Washington has beaten the Nets three straight times this season, which equals 33 percent of its total victories. The Bullets' first win against New Jersey, on Nov. 15, improved their record to 2-4; the second, on Dec. 12, came at the end of a 1-5 stretch. Tuesday's triumph over the Nets stopped a five-game losing streak and, of course, got Unseld's feet wet as a head coach.

"It was different, very different," he said. "As an assistant, I'd sit at games and talk to {assistant coach} Bill {Blair} and we'd relay what we were thinking to Kevin. Now, I'm listening to Bill, watching what's going on . . . . At times I thought it was a mess. There are a lot of things going on at the same time.

"It seemed like when I didn't have anything to say to the players the timeouts took forever, but when there was a lot to get across I had no time at all. It reminded me of when I was a substitute teacher. I had a history class and I got up and gave them the entire history of mankind as I knew it. I looked up and 15 minutes had gone off the clock and I still had 45 minutes to go."

Tonight's game could be a similarly long and agonizing experience, given the Bullets' history at Boston.

"A win is a win right now," Unseld said. "We still have the same problems as we had before, though -- that's for sure."

Mavericks 105, Suns 91:

Derek Harper scored 27 points, Sam Perkins scored 23 and Dallas never trailed last night during a game in Phoenix from which the Mavericks' Mark Aguirre and the Suns' Larry Nance were ejected for fighting.

The altercation, which took place with 21 seconds remaining before hafltime, resulted from a battle for position underneath Dallas' basket. Nance hooked his arm over Aguirre's shoulder, causing the Mavericks' leading scorer to fall to the floor.

Aguirre then made a move to kick Nance and the Phoenix forward turned around and cocked his fist. Words were exchanged, and Aguirre jumped up and went after Nance.

Players and coaches stepped in after a few punches were thrown and two other fights broke out. Aguirre exchanged punches with Phoenix's James Bailey; the Mavericks' Detlef Schrempf stepped in with Nance, who got Schrempf in a headlock and threw him to the floor. Nance departed with two points and three rebounds; Aguirre had 16 points and five rebounds.

The game marked Mavericks Coach John MacLeod's first game in Phoenix since he was fired by the Suns Feb. 26, 1987.

Walter Davis led Phoenix with 25 points and rookie Armon Gilliam had 16 in his first game since breaking a bone in his left big toe during the Suns' season-opener at Portland Nov. 4.

Rockets 120, Warriors 113:

Purvis Short haunted his old team by scoring 13 points in the final quarter of Houston's victory over Golden State in Oakland -- the first meeting of the teams since the Dec. 12 trade that sent Ralph Sampson to the Warriors in exchange for Eric (Sleepy) Floyd and Joe Barry Carroll.

It also was Short's first appearance in Oakland since being traded to Houston the day before the season started.

Akeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 30 points, 20 rebounds and six blocked shots. Short scored 27 points. Floyd had 15, but Carroll managed only two.

Sampson scored 12 points in the second quarter to rally the Warriors from a 36-23 deficit to a 59-57 halftime lead. However, he was held scoreless in the second half and finished with just 14 points to go with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Pacers 114, Bucks 108:

Steve Stipanovich scored 25 points, including the free throws that gave Indiana the lead for good, and the Pacers made their final 13 foul shots to defeat Milwaukee in Indianapolis.

Stipanovich, who scored six points in the game's final 6 1/2 minutes, made two free throws with 1:13 to play to give the Pacers a 106-104 lead. Herb Williams' layup 44 seconds later made it 108-104.

The Bucks cut their deficit to two on a 15-footer by Terry Cummings (32 points), but could get no closer.

Bulls 100, Nuggets 96:

In Chicago, Michael Jordan's fadeaway jumper with 56 seconds to play and the score tied at 96 sparked the Bulls to the victory over Denver.

The Nuggets missed their next three shots from the floor before Rory Sparrow made a layup with 11 seconds left to end the scoring.

Jordan, who was held scoreless in the first quarter and had just 15 points after three quarters, finished with 28 points, four blocked shots and six steals as the Bulls posted their third straight victory.

Lafayette Lever led Denver with 31 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.

Spurs 124, Kings 119:

Johnny Dawkins scored a season-high 30 points, Walter Berry and Alvin Robertson each scored 22 and San Antonio won in Sacramento, Calif.