BOWIE -- Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld has discovered this season that calling a team practice is a lot easier than holding one.
When Unseld took roll call at the team's Bowie State gym yesterday, he did not have enough bodies to stage a five-on-five scrimmage in preparation for tonight's game against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Missing were guards Darrell Walker (sore Achilles' tendons) and A.J. English (flu) and forwards John Williams (sore knee) and Bernard King (aching back).
"Appearing on the David Letterman show must be a tough act," said Bullets general manager John Nash, suggesting King somehow hurt his back as a guest on the talk show on Wednesday night after his 44-point effort in a double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks the night before.
King, Walker and Williams are expected to play tonight. English, who did not fly to Milwaukee with the team yesterday, is doubtful.
Unseld did not use the nagging injuries as an excuse for the recent stretch during which the Bullets have lost 10 of their past 12 games and dropped three games behind New York in the fight for the last Eastern Conference playoff berth.
"Our real problem is that we can't execute in a half-court game," he said. "We should have won the last two games with the Knicks, but wejust couldn't score in the final minutes. We just don't have the personnel to do it."
Generally speaking, there are three key ingredients to scoring in a half-court game: a strong post-up player; a penetrating guard to break down the defense, and consistent perimeter shooting. The Bullets are lacking in all three.
When Ledell Eackles and John Williams returned to action, Unseld hoped it would relieve King and fellow forward Harvey Grant of carrying almost half the offense.
But Eackles, who reported a month late after a contract dispute, has been inconsistent, and Williams, who was reactivated Feb. 12, still is out of sync.
Opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
Site: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, 9 p.m.
Radio: WTOP (1500 AM)
TV: Channel 20
Outlook: Washington has lost 4 straight and 10 of its past 12 and dropped 3 1/2 games behind New York in the battle for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Milwaukee, with the fourth-best record in the East, has won 8 of its past 12. The Bucks lost last night to New Jersey, 98-93. Bullets F Bernard King scored 83 points in the past 2 games against the Knicks. Rookie G A.J. English is doubtful with the flu. Danny Schayes has averaged 21.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in the past 7 games for the Bucks since replacing Jack Sikma as starting center. G Dale Ellis, acquired from Seattle for G Ricky Pierce, has averaged 16.2 points in five games. Milwaukee has won the two previous meetings with Washington.