If it's true that part of being a good NBA team is winning the games you're supposed to win, perhaps the Washington Bullets are on their way to respectability.
Saturday's 108-76 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Capital Centre was the second in three games under Coach Wes Unseld. Now encumbered with a 10-game losing streak, the Clippers have the fourth-worst record in the NBA.
One of the teams just below them is New Jersey -- which lost to Washington, 101-97, Tuesday in Unseld's first game.
"They've got to get it into their minds or I've got to put it there that we've got to beat the teams that we should be able to beat," Unseld said. "The teams that we have to gear up to try and beat, that may be a different story, but we can't lose to teams that we should beat."
After scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter and outscoring the visitors by 10 in the third, there was little doubt that Washington had the Clippers in tow. The Clippers came in hitting barely 43 percent of their field goal attempts, worst mark in the league and lower yet after their 33 percent against the Bullets.
"It would be very easy to say that it was a game that we were supposed to win but we haven't been winning them, so why qualify it," said Bullets forward Bernard King. "I really thought our defense was great. We rotated to the right men, we denied the ball well. We know we have the offense, but playing tough defense will make it easier for us."
Nothing has come easy for the Clippers -- and rookie Reggie Williams. Touted as potential rookie of the year before the season, the former Georgetown star has struggled, averaging almost 12 points a game but shooting 37 percent.
Saturday night, Williams played 12 minutes and scored four points. Late in the third quarter, he pulled a muscle in his left calf, making him miss the final period.
"I haven't been playing a lot over the course of the year but I was happy to come back -- Capital Centre is Capital Centre," Williams said. "Things have been a little tough for me but I have to take it in stride."
The Bullets will have an extended opportunity to do more work on defense and perhaps hit their stride. The next game isn't until Thursday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks and, after that, the Bullets are off until Sunday, when they face another of the NBA's weaker teams, the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings game, also at Capital Centre, was orignally scheduled for 1 p.m., but has been switched to 3 p.m. to try to avoid a conflict with the NFC Championship being played at RFK Stadium that day.