The Washington Bullets' next opponents are the two-time defending champion Detroit Pistons, who host the Bullets in their tony Auburn Hills Palace tonight. Detroit has beaten Washington 11 consecutive times and there's no reason to expect that streak to end.

The 2-7 Bullets need a victory. They've lost four straight, all in disturbing fashion. They could have beaten Charlotte, but gave up 39 points to Armon Gilliam. They could have beaten Philadelphia, but gave up a 35-footer to Ron Anderson at the end of regulation. They could have beaten Boston, but scored just six points the final 8:07. And they could have beaten Sacramento, after scoring 16 straight in the third quarter and leading late.

On offense, even when things are going well, there's precious little action elsewhere when Bernard King has the ball. There have been almost no hard cuts to the basket in the last three games. Also, there's no running game to speak of -- the Bullets have scored eight fast-break points in the last five fourth quarters.

"In stretches, when 'B' catches the ball, we're all starting to look and wait and see what he's going to do," guard Darrell Walker said. "That's not good. We know that's not good. We've got to keep moving . . . "

Guard Ledell Eackles is not ready to come off the suspended list. Assistant coach Bill Blair stayed home with the guard, switching places with fellow assistant Jeff Bzdelik, who went with the team to Detroit. Despite two-a-day workouts since he signed a two-year contract Nov. 12 and ended his holdout, Eackles hasn't overcome the six weeks of training camp and preseason he missed.

"I lose a couple of pounds, I'll be in there," he said. Saturday night's game at home against Indiana is "the goal we're shooting for. I think the weight is the holdup. But I don't know. That's up to Wes {Unseld}."

In the interim, the Bullets need improvement from their young players. Of the six new faces, only Greg Foster is shooting 50 percent, and he's only taken 14 shots. They're all struggling, with only King and Harvey Grant legitimate threats. Pervis Ellison is getting used to Eastern Conference basketball, A.J. English is trying to make the jump from NCAA Division II, the rest are fighting uncertain minutes.

"We need John Williams," General Manager John Nash said. "We're in a rebuilding situation and we have to depend on a lot of young people. So you've got to be willing to live with their inconsistencies and their mistakes."

The Pistons' lineup continues to click along. Their 95-plus points allowed per game is second only to Minnesota. Actually, it's a little high for the Pistons, but that's with Dennis Rodman in again, out again. His ankle -- badly sprained in last year's conference finals -- still hasn't healed. He played on it two weeks before training camp and twisted it. Since then, he's gotten treatments and continued to try to play. But he sat out the last 19 minutes of Detroit's win Tuesday, while Mark Aguirre continued his solid play.

"If I'm not 100 percent, I don't need to be playing," Rodman said. "It's depressing as hell to go out there and know you can't do it. . . . I'm not fooling anybody. I keep telling everyone it's getting better, but it's not."