You can't blink when you watch the Denver Nuggets because they come at you so fast if you stop to take a bite out of your hot dog they've already scored.


Inthetimeittakesyoutoreadthis sentencethey'vepassedtheball upcourtandaregoingfortwomore.


That's the game of the Nuggets under first-year coach Paul Westhead, whose system calls for shots in less than six seconds and for as much pressure as Denver can muster. Though it's gotten spanked so far this season, it's unrepentent -- and on the run again.

It's a testament to the curiosity factor associated with the Nuggets that a very good crowd is expected at Capital Centre tonight at 7:30 for the Washington Bullets' game with Denver, which lost Thursday to the Miami Heat, ending Miami's 10-game losing streak.

Washington needs to get back on track after two home losses. The Bullets played well but made mistakes against Philadelphia and played poorly but made it respectable against Seattle. They can't take Denver lightly, because the Nuggets got one of their six victories over Washington 18 days ago.

Thursday the Bullets should have called in sick against Seattle. By the time they started playing hard they had Haywoode Workman, A. J. English, Ledell Eackles and Greg Foster on the floor with Harvey Grant, a group that closed an 18-point deficit to five in four minutes.

But they couldn't overcome 44 minutes of lethargy.

"We don't have enough scorers and pure shooters to do that," Workman said. "We have to work the ball around, get some easy shots."

One of the handful of good things was the continued surge of center Pervis Ellison. Though he got in foul trouble trying to guard Shawn Kemp, he still managed seven points, six rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes. And he got the second-half start over Charles Jones.

"I think I'm starting to gain more and more experience, because I've been getting some playing time the past few games," said Ellison, who also was in in the closing minutes of regulation and in overtime against Philadelphia. "Once I get the playing time, my game will show steady improvement."

The Nuggets outlasted the Bullets, 128-125, Dec. 11 in an up-and-down affair that showcased the best and worst of Denver's frenzied style. Washington had almost no contested shots, but at the end, it was the Bullets who made the game-losing mistakes.

"You get the ball on the run, and shoot," Grant said. "Really do anything you want to do. We play our passing game offense and we set screens, and if we have the shot, we take it. It's not a big adjustment."

"It'll be interesting," guard Darrell Walker said. "It was a fast-paced game, but not as fast as everybody talked about, that would make you anticipate playing against them to see what it was like. They almost force you to take a quick shot because you're so open. You usually come down two-on-one, three-on-one, and you can't help but shoot the ball. And that's what they want."

Indeed. The Nuggets don't lead the league in scoring for nothing. They seem willing to give up a basket if it means they can have the ball again.

But the Nuggets have been saddled all season by injuries. At one time or another, guards Michael Adams, Chris Jackson and Todd Lichti have all been out of the lineup. So have forwards Jerome Lane and Bill Hanzlik.

And Orlando Woolridge, the league's fourth-leading scorer, is out for at least six weeks after having a detached retina reattached Monday. The Nuggets have played their last two games with the league minimum of eight players. Yesterday, they signed CBA veterans Anthony Mason and Tim Legler.

"You score or you miss," Walker said, "and the next thing you know they're right back down your throat with the basketball. People are talking bad about it but I'll tell you what: Nobody really wants to play against them."