BOWIE -- As a member of the Washington Bullets for just a couple of months, Tracy Murray doesn't believe he's in a position to address the team about its recent struggles.
But yesterday he did suggest that the Bullets (7-10) could change their ways by taking a page from the second-year Toronto Raptors.
"We lost last year. It wasn't fun but, at the same time, you knew it wasn't for the lack of effort," Murray, who played for the Raptors last season, said yesterday. "They played hard for 48 minutes. They had no letups."
Being a 48-minute team obviously is not one of the Bullets' traits these days, as they take a four-game losing streak into tonight's game against the New York Knicks.
Murray sparked the Bullets' attempted fourth-quarter comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night by scoring 16 points over the final 12 minutes.
In fact, in Washington's three biggest rallies this season -- two of them against Milwaukee and one against New Jersey -- it was Murray and other reserves who sparked the turnarounds with pressing attacks and all-out effort. It's an effort that has not been evident for an entire game.
"We need to pick up the tempo and push it," Murray said. "We have a lot of horses and we need to go. If we can [press] and get some easy baskets, you will see the potential of this team. I think we're killing ourselves by slowing it down."
By slowing the ball down, the Bullets have had trouble maintaining leads, most recently blowing a 17-point advantage over the Raptors last Thursday in Toronto.
"We get up 17 and decide to relax," Murray said. "We have to put games away."
Murray said that playing hard for an entire game will help the Bullets gain more than a win.
"Momentum is a lot. When you have momentum, it can take you through the whole game; it can take you on a string of wins," Murray said. "Right now, we have bad momentum, and it's taking us on a negative."
Asked if he were established enough to address the team, Murray said no.
"I don't feel comfortable enough on this team to be a focal leader, or be a vocal leader," Murray said. "All I do is try to lead by example. I may not be as athletic as these guys, but I guarantee you I bust my butt."
Bullets tonight Opponent: New York Knicks
Site: Madison Square Garden, New York
Time: 7: 30
TV/Radio: Ch. 50/WWRC (980 AM)
Outlook: This game matches two teams that have not lived up to preseason expectations. New York (12-6), which has won three straight, has only three victories against teams that were at least .500 before last night. F Larry Johnson (12.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and G Allan Houston (12.7 ppg) have not played up to their potential. Washington (7-10), loser of four in a row, hasn't won in New York since 1991, a 12-game span. C Lorenzo Williams scrimmaged yesterday for first time since knee surgery last month. He's expected to return in about another month.
Pub Date: 12/10/96