HOUSTON, FEB. 14 -- Some NBA games are not played well. Some are sloppy. Some are whistle-filled. The game tonight between the Washington Bullets and the Houston Rockets was just plain ugly.

The Rockets looked fine, placing four players at 20 points or more and one, Larry Smith, at 20 rebounds. They had everything their way in a 129-117 victory before 13,601 at The Summit. It was Washington that didn't make the effort.

The Bullets (21-29) played one of their poorest defensive games in recent memory. The statistics lied. They said Washington shot almost 60 percent to Houston's 56. But the Rockets (28-22) rendered useless the Bullets' double-team strategies with great play from their three-guard rotation of Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell and Sleepy Floyd.

That group combined for 69 points (Maxwell 26, Smith 23, Floyd 20), including five of Houston's seven three-pointers. Smith added 10 assists. Inside, Otis Thorpe went for 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Larry Smith, starting for injured center Akeem Olajuwon, had another big rebounding game. Thirteen of his 20 rebounds were offensive.

The Bullets were offensive too.

"It might be one of" the worst, Coach Wes Unseld said. "I think you're going to see a few more of these too. . . . We just don't have defensive-thinking people. I knew that going in. So I'm not surprised. And Friday {against Dallas, with guards Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper} could be even uglier."

Washington gave up 76 first-half points, as the Rockets ran their pick-and-roll play again and again. The Bullets had hoped to stop penetration by double-teaming as soon as the pick was set. But it was useless, because the guard being picked never got through.

"We tried," Unseld said. "But we've got too many non-defensive people in the game if we hope to score. We've been working with this all year long. We can mask it to a degree, but you can't hide pretty much three positions. I thought maybe we could try {the double-team} for a little while."

That left open lanes for Kenny Smith, and later for Floyd, to drive and pass. And when they weren't doing that, Maxwell was spotting up for jumpers from increasingly longer distances.

"They've got three of the quickest guards in the league," said A.J. English (14 points). "And they were using those big bodies -- Thorpe and {Larry} Smith were setting great picks. We adjusted a little bit, but they were hurting us on the roll. The man that was rolling started to get hot. They just played almost a complete game."

The Rockets weren't defensive Hulksters either. Bernard King got Buck Johnson, and then David Wood, in foul trouble en route to 29 points. Ledell Eackles shot 10 of 15 for 21 points, and five other Bullets scored in double figures.

Washington stopped Houston on consecutive possessions exactly three times in the first half.

"The pick-and-roll is our bread and butter," said Floyd, who was the worst shooter of the three guards at seven of 15.

"That's what we've been running, 80 percent of our offense. With the quickness we've got in the backcourt with the three guards, we can take it and run it. It's been really effective. We've been playing well together, with Larry in there. Otis has been playing consistent."

Washington made a brief spurt in the third quarter, getting to 88-77 on an Eackles jumper with 4:46 remaining. Any sign that the Bullets could stop the Rockets for a few minutes, and they could have been back in the game.

But Kenny Smith drove the lane for a basket, and Maxwell scored in transition. To end the quarter, Maxwell hit from 18 and threw in a three-pointer for good measure, increasing Houston's lead to 101-87.

The Bullets scored just four points the first 5:25 of the fourth quarter, and by then, people like Wood were driving the lane for dunks. The only good thing was the blowout gave John Williams five or six unencumbered minutes of playing time, giving him his second straight 14-minute night since returning to the lineup. He had six points, five rebounds and four assists.