LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets might as well begin calling their home the Hotel Capital Centre, a place where visitors can check in any time they want, but where they never want to leave.
And why would they, seeing as how the Bullets are so gosh darn hospitable to weary travelers. Way back in November, the Sacramento Kings limped into town and hobbled out with an 87-82 win, their only road victory of the year.
The Miami Heat, the worst of the four recent expansion teams, made reservations here in February and checked out with a 105-101 win.
And last night, the New Jersey Nets, the not-so-proud holders of a 20-game road losing string, came in for comfort and found the accommodations much to their liking, escaping with a 108-103 triumph over the home team.
"Every time we come in here, it seems that something goes wrong," said Nets center Jack Haley. "We've never really played well here, but tonight we just bonded together as a team and said, 'Let's win.' "
Of course, any team that has lost its last 20 games away from home needs a little help to win. The Bullets (30-50) were willing to oblige the Nets (25-55), turning the ball over 17 times and looking generally like a club that can't wait to head home for the summer. Thankfully for the Bullets, the season ends Sunday.
"It wasn't that ugly," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "It was just that they had some spurts and we had some spurts. I wouldn't call that ugly."
In fairness, the Bullets' wing of Hotel Capital Centre looked more like a hospital ward.
Charles Jones was placed on the injured list just before the game and was replaced by Larry Robinson, who was cut by the team in December, picked up by Golden State in January and waived again in January.
Bernard King (back) and Byron Irvin (ankle) had already been scratched from the lineup, when Pervis Ellison, who had been expected to start, was also pulled at the last minute with a sprained left ring finger.
"Boy, that's a typical Bullets injury," said guard Darrell Walker. "We've had a lot of them. His hands were really messed up. He wasn't able to catch the ball well. He got dressed tonight and was going to play, but his hands were really hurting him."
"We have had a lot of injuries, there's no question about that," said Bullets forward John Williams, who had a season-high 27 points. "And there's no question that that has hurt us.
"We got really lucky Pervis was not out there in the middle," said the Nets' Haley.
"They didn't have a dominant shot-blocker coming from the weakside, so he was allowed to get great position and we got the win," Haley said.
Coleman, who is the odds-on favorite to win league Rookie of the year honors, had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and dominated fellow rookie Greg Foster, making his first start of the season.
"You don't become a No. 1 draft pick without a lot of hard work," said Williams.