An NBA official said yesterday that the league will give the Washington Bullets more time to correct their recurring scoreboard problems at the Baltimore Arena before determining whether the team should play future league games here.
"We don't want to put the cart before the horse," said Matt Winick, the NBA's director of game operations. He attended Monday's game at the Arena between the Bullets and Atlanta Hawks when the 24-second clock malfunctioned less than eight minutes into the first quarter.
"Naturally, the league is concerned about the [clock] problem," said Winick, "but we know [team president] Susan O'Malley and the Bullets are even more concerned in correcting it. But it's the old story about not being able to treat an illness without first finding a cure."
Said O'Malley: "I'm glad that Matt Winick was on the scene to experience both our effort and frustration to solve the problem. It's very perplexing because Penn State and UMBC played at the Arena right after us and didn't have a single problem with any of the clocks in the building.
"We played a mock game here last month and also had no problems, but, of course, we didn't have TV and radio on the scene, so it could be an electrical problem."
The Bullets' first game this season at the Arena, Dec. 29 against the Charlotte Hornets, was also problem-free. But the past two contests have been marred by computer glitches, a carry-over from last year's mechanical breakdowns.
The Bullets were more prepared to deal with potential problems Monday, when auxiliary 24-second clocks were pressed into service.
The team makes its final appearance at the Arena this season against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 7. The Bullets would like to maintain their four-game schedule in Baltimore, where they have had strong fan support. All three games this season have drawn sellout crowds of 12,054.