Looking for something to get themselves going, the Washington Bullets juggled their roster around Saturday night and produced a spark of life in a dormant offense.
Haywoode Workman got the start at point guard, as Darrell Walker moved to off-guard, with Larry Robinson benched. And the team got some production out of its guards for one of the few times this season.
Washington's starting backcourt had scored 18, 12 and 8 points the previous three games. Saturday, Workman and Walker combined for 24 points on nine-of-16 shooting in the 107-105 overtime victory over Indiana.
More important, the Bullets got some transition points. Washington's guards aren't going to hit many jumpers. They had three Saturday -- two by A.J. English, one by Byron Irvin. So unless Walker gets offensive rebounds, the only way Washington can get consistent points out of its guards is on the break.
They had just eight such points against Detroit Friday, continuing a seasonlong pattern. But with Workman pushing the ball against the Pacers, Washington scored 20 such points. And Workman made the game-winning basket to boot.
"I don't think Darrell has to worry about getting back on defense," Workman said of the new arrangement. "He goes to the boards an awful lot. I can take up that part of the defense that he doesn't do when we're out there. Offensively, it gives us a lot of ball movement out there."
It means neither has to bring the ball up every time, since both have played the point. Also, Walker doesn't have to defend the quick point guards in the league, who give him more trouble. He was assigned Indiana's Reggie Miller, and though Miller scored 29, Walker was in his face all night.
Said Walker: "If a guy's trying to pressure me, I can give it to Haywoode. That's good. It frees me up to guard the other team's best guard. And it frees me from the pressure of having to rebound and also push the ball upcourt."
The problem is it puts the Bullets' only two certified ballhandlers in the game at the same time. Walker fouled out Saturday and if Workman, who had five fouls, had too, Coach Wes Unseld wasn't sure who he would have had run the offense.
With some easy baskets, the Bullets didn't have to rely exclusively on Bernard King, though he did score 34 points. The Bullets' 99 points in regulation marked the first time in four games that they cracked 90. And if they had managed not to miss 15 free throws, they could have had much more.
"They have chemistry," King said of Walker and Workman. "That's important in any team. We haven't had chemistry as a unit, so if you get two guards in the backcourt that can feed off one another . . .
"Darrell's a guy that goes to the boards a lot and gets offensive rebounds. Haywoode does a great job of pushing the ball. That frees Darrell to go to the offensive boards, which is something we want him to do. And it leaves Haywoode up on top to defend in the backcourt. They seem to have a natural chemistry and work very well."
The reserves also got shifted around. For the second straight game, Tom Hammonds was the first forward off the bench, instead of Mark Alarie, who never got in. Hammonds had eight points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes, a solid complement to Pervis Ellison's nine points and 11 rebounds.
"I gave Mark a long look early," Unseld said. "I just decided to try Hammonds and the last two games he's responded, so I just stayed with him."
"It is a difference," Hammonds said of being the first sub. "You come in there in the early part of the game and get into the rhythm of it, before it's too late."
Ellison also showed great activity on the boards, as Washington outrebounded the taller Pacers. The Bullets prevented Indiana from getting offensive rebounds and got 20 of their own.
If the play wasn't exactly inspiring, at least the Bullets had a much better offensive flow. With Ledell Eackles very close to coming back, Washington's half-court offense might begin to pick up a little. That's extra necessary considering the Bullets head west next week for a five-game swing against some of the NBA's best scoring machines.