CHICAGO, DEC. 20 -- The Washington Bullets were the last straw that cost Indiana Coach Dick Versace his job. They hope that will not be the only footnote to Wednesday's overtime win against the Pacers.
They'll find out soon enough, with the New York Knicks coming to Capital Centre Friday night, as the Bullets begin a stretch of five out of six games at home. And it's likely they'll play sometime this weekend without one or two of their players when the league office finishes looking at the tapes of Wednesday's game.
Centers Pervis Ellison of the Bullets and Rik Smits of the Pacers were ejected after fighting with 4:55 left in regulation. Soon after, forwards Bernard King of the Bullets and Chuck Person of the Pacers were nose-to-nose. And after the game, Bullets guard Darrell Walker had a few choice words for official Ron Olesiak in separate incidents.
Ellison almost certainly will be suspended for at least one game, as is the league norm, for his part in the fight. He will be fined $500 (for being ejected on a double-technical fighting foul) and may have to give up some cash as well. Many times the league asks for 1/82nd of a player's salary, which in Ellison's case breaks down to about $21,950.
It would be Washington's third big fine of the season. Harvey Grant was fined $4,000 this month for his role in an incident with Detroit's Joe Dumars, and Greg Foster had to surrender $2,000 as well.
Walker also may be asked to sit out a game. After the final horn, he went to midcourt and yelled at Olesiak, and the two exchanged words outside the Washington locker room minutes later.
Rod Thorn, the NBA vice president of operations, said yesterday that the league's security office had not yet completed its report, but he expected he would have something to say by midday Friday.
A suspension of Ellison would come at a bad time, for he played his best game in a Washington uniform Wednesday. He scored 14 points and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds against the Pacers, and he had his teammates buzzing with the possibilities.
"He did some things out there that were scary," Walker said. Using "the left hand, throwing it down. He got one rebound when his whole body was over the rim. We need that from Pervis. I'm not trying to put any pressure on him. But we need that from him. He rebounds like that every night, it takes pressure off a lot of people."
Coach Wes Unseld "stressed the fact that it's time. It's time," Ellison said. "I haven't been playing too well and Coach wanted to give the other guys an opportunity to play.
"We had a talk and he's trying to work me back, get me some playing time. It's time for me to show some productivity. I feel it personally. I can't say I'm a hell of a player to you and it's going to be in your mind, but I know what I can do. Not performing is something I don't want to experience. I've really pushed myself in practice."
Now Washington gets a chance to make a little push of its own. The Bullets are 5-3 at Capital Centre, with wins over the Bulls, Pistons and Warriors already under their belts. Their only road game until Jan. 4 will be at Cleveland Saturday night, after leading the league in fewest home appearances for most of the year. San Antonio is the only team that's close with nine.