With a rare four days of practice time, the Washington Bullets are trying to fine-tune their team as well as settle down from a hectic week in which Wes Unseld was named head coach.
Since Kevin Loughery was fired on Jan. 3, the Bullets have gone 2-1, the last victory a 108-76 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers that represented Washington's biggest margin of victory this season. On Thursday, the Bullets will face the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital Centre.
"Now is a chance for Wes to put in some things and to clarify some of the other things we've been trying to do," assistant coach Bill Blair said yesterday. "We had put in two or three plays and some out-of-bounds stuff, but we hadn't had a chance to work on them at all. We're not trying to make 52,000 changes; we just want to take what we've got and make it better."
The Bullets have appeared to respond to Unseld in his three games as coach, showing a consistency of effort that had eluded them previously this season. The only true area of uncertainty has been at point guard. Rookie Tyrone Bogues started the first two games, but was replaced early in last Friday's loss to Boston. Against the Clippers the following night, Steve Colter was inserted as a starter.
"I think that's going to continue," Blair said. "He's bigger and can probably defend better in a half-court game. In the last two games, we got into a little trouble with teams trying to post up Muggsy."
Bogues, the team's 5-foot-4 first-round draft pick, will see extensive action as the backup point guard, freeing Frank Johnson for a move to the off-guard spot, where he'll back up Jeff Malone.
"We're going to give that a real look-see, to make sure he can play there; we think he can," said Blair. "This way, everything can get stabilized -- especially the point. We'd like to get where everyone will know how many minutes they're going to play and in what position."
Blair added that John Williams and Mark Alarie may continue to see spot duty at guard, but the bulk of their time will be in the front court at either the small or power forward position.
Celtics 104, Bulls 97:
In Chicago, Boston's Larry Bird scored 16 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to victory.
The Bulls' Michael Jordan, who also scored 16 points in the final quarter, had 42 points. But he missed four shots in a 90-second span in the final four minutes.
Lakers 117, Warriors 113:
Byron Scott had 30 points and Los Angeles scored 10 of its last 14 points on free throws to defeat Golden State in Inglewood, Calif. and extend its winning streak to 15 games.
Trailing by as many as 13 points just before halftime, the Lakers cut their deficit to 83-79 by the end of the third quarter. They tied the score on Michael Cooper's three-point field goal 49 seconds into the fourth quarter. Los Angeles then ran off eight straight points in a 1:38 span to pull ahead for good.
Cavaliers 119, Knicks 111:
Mark Price scored nine of his career-high 29 points in the final four minutes and host Cleveland defeated New York to give Coach Lenny Wilkens his 600th NBA coaching victory.
Bucks 106, 76ers 103:
In Milwaukee, Jack Sikma scored 22 points, Terry Cummings had eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and the Bucks ended Philadelphia's four-game winning streak.