SEATTLE, JAN. 19 -- Call it half a team meeting.

Four of the five starters in the Washington Bullets' 111-89 loss tonight to the Seattle SuperSonics were not present at this postgame meeting. Nor was Mark Alarie. This "talk," as Coach Wes Unseld put it later, was squarely aimed at young minds and young bodies that didn't get ready to play basketball.

Most of them were on the floor when Seattle's Olden Polynice dunked his way to a career-high 27 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Many of them were on the floor when the SuperSonics (17-19) went on 17-2 and 19-6 runs in the second and third quarters that took Washington (16-21) right out of the game.

They were Haywoode Workman, Ledell Eackles, Pervis Ellison, Tom Hammonds, Byron Irvin, Greg Foster and A. J. English.

There were tailor-made reasons for the Bullets' demise tonight. It was Washington's fourth game in five nights, the end of a road trip. The SuperSonics possess big bodies along the lines of Shawn Kemp (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Derrick McKey (17 points) and Michael Cage (eight rebounds).

But, as assistant coach Bill Blair said -- Unseld was still "talking" to the kids -- "that's no reason not to get in there and fight. We allowed them to push us around. I think Wes would say that. That's what we talked about at the half, that they were pushing us around."

Later, when he was asked why he had half a team meeting, Unseld said, "because I thought half of the team needed talking to.

"I sat down and I talked with six, seven individuals on this team," he said. "It wasn't anything. It was a talk that I need to get some help out of certain groups. It wasn't a chewing-out. It wasn't blame for the game tonight. They weren't responsible for the way we played. This team's played four games in five nights and they're tired and it showed."

Now, for the rest of the story.

The gist of the discussion was "our roles, what's expected of you, what you have to do to help this team out," Workman said. "In order to play you've got to be ready, be in shape, do the little things."

"We need 12 guys playing together for us to be successful," Ellison said.

Said Eackles, who was already halfway in the doghouse after a two-of-11 shooting effort in Portland Friday: "I could have played better. I've just got to motivate myself to step up and get to that next level and play hard like everyone's looking for me to do, quit feeling sorry for myself. . . . "

The starters weren't outstanding themselves, but the effort was there. Harvey Grant played with shin splints, and had 19 points and six rebounds. Held to 15 in the Portland blowout Friday, Bernard King was again slowed down, this time by McKey, with 17 points on six-of-15 shooting. Charles Jones did an excellent job down low defensively on Kemp and had five blocked shots.

But no one could stop Polynice. "Tonight he was Kareem," Darrell Walker said. "Now he is seven feet tall and 240. All he has to do is stand in the paint and catch. And he's been playing well. But not that well."

Said Polynice, 12 of 15 from the field: "We've been playing well the last few weeks and my game is coming together. There's a good flow to the offense. I kept watching {guard Nate McMillan} and he kept finding me."

The Bullets fell behind 56-44 at the half, closed to seven, then lost the range. McMillan's three-pointer to end the quarter gave Seattle an 82-62 lead.

Unseld went to his bench to start the fourth. They tried trapping, but McMillan and Sedale Threatt beat that plan. And Polynice was the recipient each time, scoring 11 of Seattle's first 13 fourth-quarter points on three dunks, two hooks in the lane and a free throw.

"You get behind like we were," Alarie said, "and in the back of your mind you're thinking to catch up you need to score. And you're not really thinking about where you need to be defensively in the trap. One guy's out of position and the whole thing falls apart. You substitute a bunch of players and some guys might not know exactly where they should go. There was a lot of confusion on our part."