LANDOVER -- An indication of things to come last night came a mere 52 seconds into the game when 7-foot-7 Washington Bullets center Gheorghe Muresan tried a jumper from the baseline.
Six-foot-11 Indiana Pacers forward Dale Davis deposited Muresan's shot into the cheap seats.
From there, the evening turned into an Indiana block party, with the Pacers recording a season-high 16 blocks in last night's 113-99 win over the Bullets before a sellout crowd of 18,756 at USAir Arena.
In a season in which the Bullets already have gotten off to the worst start in franchise history, the loss last night -- the team's 10th in a row -- matches its longest losing streak since moving from Baltimore. The eight straight losses at home tie a franchise mark. And the Bullets (7-26) have dropped 18 of 19.
Davis and Derrick McKey each swatted four shots as eight Indiana players recorded blocks. It was the most blocks against the Bullets this season, surpassing 13 by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 28.
"They'll goaltend a few shots to send a message," said Mitchell Butler, who scored 19 points for Washington. "Once you go in on them, they go after the ball really well."
Juwan Howard was solid again for the Bullets. Limited to 31 minutes because of foul trouble, Howard scored 22 points (11-for-13 from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds. But there was nothing to celebrate on the eve of his homecoming in Detroit, where the former Michigan star will lead the Bullets against the Pistons.
"I don't care about individual play. What I care about is winning," Howard said. "One win would at least help us. I hate to see everybody with their heads down. We need something to lift our heads up."
Sounds like Howard and his teammates need to play . . . the Bullets. Indiana had dropped two straight and three of four before correcting its ways against Washington.
Reggie Miller was a point-a-minute man -- scoring 31 in as many minutes and taunting the fans at courtside. Davis scored a season-high 25 points, hitting 10 of 12 shots, to go along with 10 rebounds.
"Dale Davis was very, very good at both ends of the floor," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "And Reggie was Reggie. Obviously, they're very good."
The Bullets trailed 92-76 going into the final quarter and were never able to get closer than 13, the last time coming with 6:24 left after a three-pointer by Doug Overton.
Soon afterward, the Indiana starters were resting comfortably on the bench, as again the Bullets were on the wrong side of a one-sided affair.
Butler hit three three-point shots, but otherwise the Bullets' perimeter game was nonexistent. Calbert Cheaney (3-for-9 from the field), Rex Chapman (4-for-11) and Scott Skiles (2-for-10) combined to hit nine of 30 shots (29.0 percent).
With no outside game, the Bullets went inside. If you want to look at the bright side, take away the 16 blocks and the Bullets were 37 of 66 from the floor (66.0 percent).
That's what you're left with the Bullets these days, desperately reaching for something positive.
The Bullets were competitive in the first half, after which they trailed 59-53. The Bullets even had a 22-21 rebounding advantage at halftime.
But in the third quarter, Washington had just four rebounds. A good reason was the Pacers weren't missing. Indiana hit 14 of 19 shots (73.3 percent) in the third with Davis scoring 10 in the period, during which the Pacers built a 19-point lead.
"They're a good team, obviously," Skiles said. "But other teams were beating them. We're not getting good enough looks. We're not executing well enough to get good shots."
Last night that was because of the obstacles the Pacers, who had nine blocks in the first half, threw at the Bullets. Even Miller, not known to venture down low, blocked a shot -- his third of the season.
"Call me Reggie Olajuwon," Miller said afterward, laughing.
* NOTES: Chris Webber began the rehabilitation of his injured shoulder yesterday. Despite being a Detroit native, he did not fly out with the team last night. . . . Muresan, who had back-to-back 19-point games, was slowed with the flu. He had eight points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.. . . Jim McIlvaine scored a career-high 10 points.