LANDOVER -- Early in the second half, with Washington trailing the Orlando Magic, 62-43, a fan in the Capital Centre crowd of 6,165 shouted to Bullets coach Wes Unseld, "Put your regulars in!"
Unseld bit his lip, or he might have responded, "What regulars?"
He had a better lineup dressed in business suits than in uniforms last night as the Magic routed the Bullets for the second time in a week, 95-82.
It was difficult dediding which was the real expansion team. Point guard Michael Adams and forward Pervis Ellison, nursing a sore back, were the only legitimate Bullets starters playing significant minutes as Washington (2-5) dropped its fifth straight.
Adams did all he could to keep the score respectable. He scored 30 points and added 10 assists and 8 rebounds, almost single-handedly reducing a 19-point third quarter deficit to pull the Bullets within five points at 84-79 with three minutes left.
But Orlando center Greg Kite beat the Bullets trap for a slam dunk and Scott Skiles (18 points, six assists), followed with a breakaway layup to put it out of reach. The Magic then coasted to their fourth win in six games.
The Magic won its first three games before losing road games to New York in Chicago, and coach Matt Guokas credits an improved attitude after a strong second-half finish last season.
"We came into training camp with a certain confidence," Guokas said. "Our players started believing in themselves, and that's a major part of this game."
Guokas has made few roster moves, except for returning Terry Catledge to his starting role at power forward after the former Bullet spent most of the second half of last season in the coach's doghouse because of "a poor attitude" and nagging minor ailments.
"Terry reported to camp with a whole different mental approach," Guokas said. "He was determined to show me that he deserved to start. He's just not helping us scoring and rebounding, but he is boxing out on the boards and doing all the little things that help you to win."
Said Catledge, who has been plagued in recent years by alcohol abuse and suspended driving licenses, "I'm not laying down. I want to show the Magic it wasn't a bad idea last year to sign me to a long-term deal [six years for $6.9 million]. I've still got a lot to prove to myself and the fans."
Catledge would have had a hard time recognizing the Bullets starting five. Decimated by injuries, Wes Unseld promoted forward Tom Hammonds and guard David Wingate to starting roles.
Forward Harvey Grant was still nursing a sore foot while Wingate replaced a slump-ridden A. J. English at shooting guard.
Catledge accounted for five of Orlando's first 7 points, but the Bullets used an effective fast break to take an early 12-7 lead. Hammonds twice converted Adams' passes into layups.
Then it was the Magic's turn to run, as the Bullets repeatedly turned over the ball or forced up poor percentage shots.
With Skiles doing the feeding, Dennis Scott scored consecutive layups to push the visitors ahead, 15-14. Skiles followed with two baskets of his own for a 19-16 spread and the Magic added three more to lead, 22-16, at the end of the quarter.
Hammonds ended a four-minute scoring famine with a jump shot to start the second quarter. But the shooting on both sides cooled, except for Nick Anderson who scored three baskets to keep Orlando in front, 28-22.
The Bullets turned the ball over on three straight possessions, with Wingate the culprit twice. After a steal off an errant Larry Stewart pass led to a Magic layup the small crowd booed in derision.
Orlando led, 35-24, before Adams made two free throws to end another four-minute scoreless spell by Washington. Adams scored five more points in the last two mintes of the quarter, but the Magic held a 41-32 advantage at halftime.
The Bullets had more turnovers (14) than field goals (11) at the break, making only 30 percent of their field goal attempts. The Magic were only slightly better, converting 33 percent from the field (18-for-55).
Adams had 14 points for the Bullets, one more than Scott.
The Bullets turned to a trapping defense to start the second half. It hardly helped as a Skiles scoop shot padded Orlando's margin to 49-35.
The catcalls sounded again when Hammonds double-dribbled on a breakaway attempt. When the Bullets finally managed a basket by Ellison, it was greeted with loud cheers.
Opponent: Minnesota Timberwolves
Site: Target Center, Minneapolis, 8
Radio: WTOP (1500 AM)
Outlook: The Timberwolves have a new head coach, Jimmy Rodgers, who replaced Bill Musselman. Their only victory came over the Kings in Sacramento Saturday. They are averaging a league-low 87.6 points. G Tony Campbell leads scorers (13.4), and point G Pooh Richardson averages 7 assists. C Felton Spencer is averaging 8 rebounds. Top draft choice Luc Longley, the 7-foot-2 center from Australia, is unsigned.