The Washington Bullets get a look at a fully operational championship contender tonight when they play the Chicago Bulls at the University of Iowa. It's a good opportunity for Washington to find out just how good players like Pervis Ellison and A.J. English are against top-shelf competition while at the same time putting Sunday's exhibition loss behind them.

That loss to the Clippers served to accentuate Washington's problems. The Bullets shot less than 38 percent from the field in the 115-99 defeat, continuing a trend that has lasted for most of camp since the veterans arrived. Almost none of the guards in camp, with the exception of free agent Larry Robinson, have shot well, and this is after getting open shots in the passing-game offense.

English is 10 of 31 in the exhibition and a scrimmage, three of 13 against the Clippers. Sunday's game can be forgiven in part because he was playing near his collegiate stomping grounds at Virginia Union. He had 40 requests for tickets before the game.

"It wasn't the building, it was A.J. English," he said. "The good players don't look for any excuses. I'm sure Coach {Wes} Unseld will catch me on the upside, not on the downside. I see where I've got a lot of improving to do. This was my first professional game. It just happened to be in Richmond."

Ledell Eackles' absence was only magnified by the shooting of the guards. Darrell Walker was zero for four, and it appeared as if his Achilles' heels were bothering him again. Steve Colter was one for six and none of the other free agents stood out.

Ellison continued to be a bright spot. Foul trouble limited him to 17 minutes, but in that brief stretch he had nine points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.

"I don't think too many players on our team really got into the flow," he said. "It would have helped if we had played {Saturday} night." That game, in New Haven, was canceled because of condensation on the floor of the New Haven Coliseum.

The same glaring defensive weaknesses were well in evidence. For the most part, the Clippers got uncontested shots all night, and this isn't a team known for pounding the ball inside. Despite Ellison's blocked shots, Ken Norman and Benoit Benjamin were able to slide inside most of the night. Among Washington's defenders, rookie Greg Foster had the most luck, giving one of his best efforts of camp.

"A couple of things surprised me," Foster said. "We had just talked about not using both hands on defense. You can use one hand to put up on the guy's back but I was using both."

It used to be that the Bullets did pretty well in guarding Michael Jordan. But much of that was because of Jeff Malone's work at both ends of the floor. With Malone traded and Eackles still holding out, it will fall to Colter to guard the perennial all-pro.

Jordan slightly sprained an ankle in Saturday night's game with Utah, and sat out the second half. Playing sparingly Sunday, he scored 16 points against the Jazz. Second-year player Stacey King scored 14 points in each of the Bulls' first two preseason games.

Chicago's team is pretty much set, with veterans John Paxson, Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen flanking Jordan among the starters. But Paxson and Cartwright, as well as reserve guard Dennis Hopson, acquired from the Nets just before the draft, are taking their time in returning from minor offseason surgeries.