SAN ANTONIO, FEB. 12 -- In less than 24 hours, the Washington Bullets have gotten closer than ever to the team they imagined they'd be all along. Monday, John Williams was activated. Tonight, Ledell Eackles drew his first start all season.

Before the Bullets took on the San Antonio Spurs, Coach Wes Unseld called it "one of those rocket scientist moves I get paid for." The reasons are twofold. First, the Bullets had averaged a bare 100 points in the four games missed to date by both Darrell Walker and Haywoode Workman, and Eackles had scored when he played starter's minutes.

Second, opposing off-guards have feasted on Byron Irvin during his time as the emergency starter.

"We've got a couple of players out," Eackles said. "Now it's up to me to hold it the rest of the year. If I come on strong the second half and we make the playoffs, I'll have a good year and the team will have a good year."

"I said that I'd try to get {Eackles} in there, eventually hope to get him there a lot more," Unseld said. "But that hasn't been the case. It still might not be. It's up to him whether he stays there." . . .

John Williams has one knee brace. Custom-made. And someone forgot to bring it before the Bullets' bus left for HemisFair Arena. The team waited. It had waited 437 days for Williams to return to the lineup. It could wait a few more minutes.

Before tonight's game, Williams was very quiet in the locker room.

"I was just giving thanks to the Lord for giving me strength and giving the organization patience to let me get back in shape," he said. "I really don't know what to expect from myself but I'm going to give a hundred percent. How good it is remains to be seen."

Williams spent a quiet day with Charles Jones after the morning shootaround.

"We went to the mall, tried to get isolated, because I was getting a lot of phone calls," Williams said. "Just to get out and walk, clear my mind, and try to get ready for the game." . . .

Walker resumed rehabilitating his injured right knee today after going to Charlotte Friday for a players association meeting.

He had caveats about the expectations for the Bullets now that Williams is back.

"He's not going to play a lot of minutes anyway, so that's not going to be the problem," Walker said. "People think we're going to take off. That's not going to happen. He's not going to take off. He's going to have to get in shape. I think he can play 10, 15 minutes a game."