LANDOVER -- It was an amazing reversal of fortune last night for the Washington Bullets, who rebounded from an embarrassing 45-point loss in New Jersey Saturday night to crush the Milwaukee Bucks, 121-98, before a crowd of 6,165.
This one was so easy that coach Wes Unseld pulled all of his starters with his team leading by 29 and close to eight minutes left to play.
There was much to like about this Bullets performance, particularly the interior passing, aggressive rebounding and unusually stubborn defense.
Michael Adams led the balanced offense with 22 points. Harvey Grant, who was nursing a thigh bruise, chipped in with 19. Rookie forward Tom Gugliotta made only two of eight shots, but contributed 11 rebounds for the Bullets (11-22).
Small forward Buck Johnson, who had been tagged as a likely casualty if Bernard King was reactivated, scored 12 points in a reserve role.
Lottery pick Todd Day led the Bucks (14-19) with 26 points.
Asked to explain his team's dramatic turnaround, Unseld said, "I didn't really read much into our performance in New Jersey.
"Tonight, we just came out with a much better frame of mind. And it helped us that the Bucks were without two of their best players -- Alvin Robertson and Frank Brickowski."
Actually, Brickowski started the game and played 15 minutes in the first half before departing with a deep thigh bruise. But by halftime, the Bullets already had set the tempo, gaining a 53-42 lead by shooting 59 percent from the field and outrebounding the Bucks, 23-16.
Grant scored all but two of his 19 points in the first half after managing only six points in the thrashing by the Nets.
"It was like night and day," said Grant. "We got down 13-4 early tonight, but we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'Let's go!' and we picked it up a notch."
Ellison, who sat out Monday's practice with a sore knee, contributed 13 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes, meeting little resistance inside from the Bucks.
"You can't explain it," he said. "Getting blown out one night and then winning easy the next time out is just part of the NBA."
But the youthful Bucks, who surprised everyone by winning 10 of their first 13 games, were clearly disturbed by their lackluster effort.
"There are no excuses, they just kicked our butts," said Mike Dunleavy, who left the Lakers to take over the Bucks this season. "We didn't play with any toughness. We need to play a we game, not a me game. We let them beat us up and down the floor."
Indeed. Led by Adams, the Bullets scored 22 points on fast breaks compared to eight by the Bucks.
"We just aren't working as hard as we did early in the season," said Blue Edwards.