The Washington Bullets got a reprieve from the league office yesterday and now can take their time in activating guard Ledell Eackles. Director of Operations Rod Thorn granted an indefinite stay on the suspended list for Eackles, which means the Bullets don't have to cut anyone until they're ready.

The league had given the club five days to make a move on Eackles when he signed his two-year, $1.4 million contract Monday. That meant the Bullets would have had to act last night or this morning.

"I called Rod and told him our intent was to keep Ledell on the suspended list until he was ready to play," General Manager John Nash said before last night's game with the Celtics. "He said fine. When I first talked to him I didn't have the luxury of knowing what shape Ledell was in. We just put his name on a contract and sent him to run around over at Navy.

"But now that we know he's unable to play tonight and possibly unable to play on Tuesday {vs. Sacramento}, he said fine. I thought {the five-day deadline} was sort of arbitrary."

It would have been, and will be, a tough cut. Larry Robinson, the free agent who's starting in the backcourt, has played well. Haywoode Workman is the team's only true point guard. Byron Irvin has a guaranteed $350,000 contract.

Offense Off-Center

Patience is being sorely tested by Pervis Ellison's failure to get untracked offensively. In the last five games the second-year pro center is six for 27 (.222) from the floor.

Friday, he was one of eight from the field -- besides missing a would-be clinching free throw -- in the overtime loss in Philadelphia. He did block four fourth-quarter shots as Washington tried to hold on.

The Bullets know Ellison's strengths are on the defensive end, but scoring is not Charles Jones's role and rookie Greg Foster isn't playing. So if they're to get offense from the pivot, it will have to come from Ellison.

"We get five points from our center position {Friday}. That's the problem," Coach Wes Unseld said. "The honeymoon is over."

Incendiary Bomb III

Ron Anderson's tying 35-footer made it three timed in three years the 76ers have wrecked Washington on a long-range last-second shot.

So what is the science of defending the last-second three-pointer?

"If you get up on a man 45 feet from the basket, you have to recognize who you're guarding," Bernard King said. "If you're overplaying and denying, the man is going to backcut you and he's going to have a wide-open three-point shot. If you're off of him, and you run at him, and he's {still} got his dribble, he's going to dribble by you. You don't back up to the three-point line, but you do give some room so that you can recover."

Still, you don't expect anyone to drill a 35-footer.

"He misses the shot, you guys say great defense, forcing him to take a shot five feet behind the three-point line," King said.