LANDOVER -- The Bullets and Celtics are two teams headed in different directions, although last night Washington kept pace with Boston for a half. But once All-Star forward Larry Bird found his shooting touch, it was no contest.
Bird shook off a 2-for-9 first-half shooting performance and the defensive efforts of forward Harvey Grant to burn the Bullets for 13 third-quarter points, as the Celtics took control en route to a 94-86 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,756 at the Capital Centre.
With leading scorer Bernard King out for his second straight game (strained back), the Bullets had no answer for Bird when the Celtics began to pull away.
"I really got into the flow on offense," said Bird, who finished with 19. "In the first quarter, I felt good about my shots, but they didn't go in but in the third quarter they started to drop."
Bird made six of nine third-quarter field goals as a six-point Celtics halftime lead ballooned to 76-62 after three quarters. The Bullets never got the Celtics lead under 10 in the fourth until Tom Hammonds hit a layup with 53 seconds left for the game's final basket.
In the fourth quarter Bird let rookie guard Dee Brown take over. Brown scored 12 of his game-high 22 in the fourth.
The loss was the seventh straight at home for the Bullets, setting a franchise record for consecutive home loses. The 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets set the previous record at six one year before current Bullets head coach Wes Unseld's rookie season.
The Bullets have also loss 10 of their last 11 games. The Celtics, who have already clinched a playoff spot, won for the eighth time in their last 11 games. Yesterday's game concluded a five-game eight-day road trip during which the Celtics went 4-1.
Center Pervis Ellison led the Bullets with 21 points but the Bullets sorely missed King's veteran leadership against the Celtics.
King, the NBA's second-leading scorer, was listed as probable for last night's game after he missed Tuesday's game against Charlotte. He also will miss tonight's game against New Jersey. Until Tuesday King had played in 181 straight games.
"I think he just needs some rest," said Unseld.
Forward Harvey Grant, who also missed the Charlotte game because of a sore right ankle, did play last night. Grant came off the bench to score 15.
But the injury problems continued as center Charles Jones did not play in the second half because of a pulled left groin. He is expected to be out seven to 10 days.
"I just don't know how to explain it," Unseld said of the rash of injuries that have hindered the Bullets recently. "Instead of going to easier practices I'm going to go to church."
With Jones' injury the only Bullets players who have not missed games because of injuries in the last six week are Ellison and rookies A.J. English and Greg Foster.