LANDOVER -- Draped in a white robe, Bernard King sat in front of his stall in the Washington Bullets' locker room and talked about the next step in his career.
That, he said frankly, will be at least a week of rest, on doctor's orders.
There will be no points from the man who scores them in abundance. The Bullets will not even have what coach Wes Unseld says is so helpful, "Bernard's presence."
King looked like a man whose back hurt when he scored a meager four points in 20 unproductive minutes as the Bullets rang up their third straight victory, 113-106 over the New Jersey Nets last night before 5,979 at the Capital Centre.
And, of course, that is exactly the problem -- King's back does hurt. The soreness has plagued him for almost two months. He finally surrendered to it, sat out four games, ending his consecutive games streak at 181, and then tried to come back Friday against Atlanta. It was too soon.
"The back's not good," said King, whose average has slipped from No. 2 in the NBA (29.0) to No. 5 (28.3). "I shouldn't have come back, but I don't like to sit and I thought it had healed.
"I played against Atlanta without the benefit of a practice. We did have a shoot-around, and it felt good in that, but that's not the same."
King's back was examined again last night and no miracle cure was prescribed.
"Just rest," King said. "We tried ice and ultrasound before and it didn't make any difference. We're going to give it a week and then see how it is.
"I don't have any mobility. I played a month and a half with it prior to sitting down. I dealt with the rest and now I'll have to deal with it again."
With a week of rest, King will miss three games, starting with Thursday night's at Cleveland.
It could be argued that the Bullets won't miss him, not in his present condition anyway, that 18 points (on 5-for-26 shooting) in the last three games are, by his standard, minuscule. Unseld doesn't buy that.
"His presence alone has helped us," Unseld said. "He draws people to him, leaving other guys uncovered. He makes it easier for them."
It may be instructive that, with a subpar King, the Bullets have won three straight, matching their longest winning streak for the third time this season.
Other players have stepped forward, and last night it was John Williams, he of the excess weight and rehabilitated knee. His team-high 24 points represented a season-high and was only six shy of his career-best.
"Williams was great," King said. "A guy misses a year and it takes a lot of time to get his rhythm and instincts back."
Pervis Ellison, who averaged 16.4 points in the last five games, scored only two, played eight minutes and came out with a strained back. He's questionable for Thursday's game in Cleveland . . . Former Towson State star Kurk Lee, now a Nets rookie, didn't play. He has made a few cameo appearances since coming off the injured list (knee) last week . . . The Bullets have won 13 straight against the Nets at the Capital Centre . . . Sam Bowie and Derrick Coleman led New Jersey with 25 and 23, respectively.