ORLANDO, Fla. -- Terry Catledge had season highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds last night in leading the unbeaten Orlando Magic to a 105-88 victory over the Washington Bullets.
The Magic's 3-0 start, best in the history of the third-year expansion franchise, leaves Orlando alone atop the NBA's Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers (2-2) knocked the New Jersey Nets (1-1) from the unbeaten ranks, 107-105.
Washington, which won its first two games, dropped to 2-2 after losing on consecutive nights to Philadelphia and Orlando.
"It shouldn't have been a factor," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said when asked if fatigue played a part. "That's the last excuse. I hadn't thought of it, so I might use it later.
"Tonight, we got our butts beat."
Orlando coach Matt Guokas said defense was the foundation of his team's success. "I'm happy to be 3-0, I don't know about surprised -- nothing surprises me," said Guokas, who never has seen the Magic so focused. "We played a lot of real good defense tonight, especially in the first three quarters."
Catledge, a former Bullet who came to Orlando in the 1989 expansion draft, led the Magic at both ends of the court, scrapping and diving for loose balls. Only a few months removed from Guokas' doghouse, Catledge hit eight of 13 field-goal attempts and eight of 10 free throws.
"Terry is a man on a mission," Guokas said. "He's made a real commitment to himself. He's not distracted by anything."
Catledge, who had both knees on ice during the aftermath, said: "I want to show myself, the fans, teammates and family that I want to be out on the floor. I want to show them what I'm really made of."
Joining Catledge in double figures were teammates Dennis Scott (19), Nick Anderson (19), Jerry Reynolds (12), Scott Skiles (12) and Greg Kite (10).
Michael Adams led the Bullets with 23 points, 19 in the opening half. Harvey Grant and Pervis Ellison each added 15, and Ledell Eackles had 13.
The defense Guokas spoke of was evident in the third quarter when the Bullets worked their way into the Magic's record book by scoring 13 points to Orlando's 33.
Several times Orlando has held opponents to 14 points in a quarter -- most recently against the Dallas Mavericks March 27, 1991. And each time it happened in the third quarter.
The Bullets shot 24 percent (5-21) from the field and hit three of four free throws in the third quarter. Orlando has outscored its opponents, 108-63, in third quarters this season, including 47-31 against the 76ers at the Spectrum Saturday night.
Orlando got an emotional boost from Kite, who missed the Philadelphia game to attend his father's funeral in Houston on Tuesday.
Kite returned to Orlando yesterday, and his back-to-back slams highlighted the Magic's historic third quarter. Kite, never feared for his offense, got his second dunk off a feed from Skiles at 4 minutes to give Orlando a 77-58 lead. From there, the Magic never looked back.