NEW YORK, JAN. 31 -- The heart of Bernard King's game is hard work. So it was not by accident or without thought that King singled out Charles Jones the other day as one of the main reasons he's been able to score the points that got the recognition that helped win the games that got King back to the NBA All-Star Game.

This may be a stretch, but King's success may be Jones's. Jones will never make an all-star team. He has squeezed out seven-plus NBA seasons doing things that don't get him recognition, and doing them again, and again. The NBA is a cutthroat business. If you don't make a contribution, you don't make teams.

"All part of a day's work," said Jones. "It's part of a job and part of the role I have on this team. To try and set the picks for the people who can score and get them the ball if I have it in my hand. That's what I've been trying to do so far and he's been putting it in the basket."

It is not by accident Jones is starting ahead of Pervis Ellison. The Bullets still don't have a low-post defender better than Jones. Against Seattle earlier in the month, Jones worked rookie Shawn Kemp all night, giving a shove here, taking away a knee there.

Thus Jones earns his keep. And serves, along with Darrell Walker and King, as the embodiment of aspiration through perspiration to the younger players.

"I hope so," Jones said. "That's what it's going to take in order to be successful in this league. It's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, especially to see something like Bernard did."

Shorthanded

This is why John Williams won't be activated until the all-star break. Wednesday -- the one day this week the Bullets didn't play -- the team had just nine healthy bodies available to practice, because Jones had a leg problem. So Rick Moreland suited up. If the name is familiar, it's because he's the Bullets' public relations director.

Moreland played at UMBC and was Washington's 10th-round pick in 1983. He's also 6 feet 7. So the idea isn't as wild as it sounds.

"I think I took the team's shooting percentage way down," Moreland said. . . . Friday's home game with Detroit marks the Bullets' only national television appearance of the season and the second time in five days they'll have played the Pistons.

Experience Over Youth

Detroit is going with veteran John Long as its third guard over rookie Lance Blanks. And it's not concerned that the offense has sputtered in Isiah Thomas's absence. "We've been playing this way for a long time," Coach Chuck Daly said, "and very successfully."