LANDOVER -- As long as Chris Webber can remember, playing basketball always has been an enjoyable experience. But he's found that constantly losing has a way of changing one's mind-set.
"I never felt this way about basketball in my life," Webber said yesterday. "Before, I felt like you would wake me up at 6 in the morning, and I'd play. Now, if you wake me up at 6 in the morning, you might get in a fight."
Regardless of when Webber wakes up, the results are usually the same. Yesterday, the Washington Bullets lost to the Boston Celtics, 110-98, for their 11th straight defeat.
It's the longest losing streak of the season for the Bullets, the longest since the team moved to Landover and the second-longest in franchise history. With the next two games on the road against the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, tying the franchise-record 13-game streak is becoming more and more a reality.
"Very, very, very difficult," Bullets center Gheorghe Muresan said of the streak. "I'm always waiting for the ice to break, to win some games."
It's been a long wait for the Bullets, who haven't won since they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 19. But Muresan did all he could, scoring a career-high 30 points in a performance that had Boston coach Chris Ford rushing over to shake his hand afterward.
"Gheorghe is probably the most improved player in the league this year," Ford said. "[Yesterday] was no fluke. He deserves a lot of praise. He's a big force."
Said Muresan: "I played well, but I don't think about that too much if we lose. I've been working very, very hard to play more minutes."
Muresan did his damage in the post. And Webber came one assist shy of his second straight triple double, with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
But the Bullets were out-rebounded by the Celtics, 45-31. Seven of Boston's 17 offensive rebounds came during the fourth quarter, with the second-chance opportunities thwarting any chance of a Washington win.
"We got a one-point lead in the fourth quarter, then they must have had four follow-up field goals from that point on," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "We can't give up second shots from rebounds."
The Celtics were able to overcome the loss of starting center Eric Montross (sprained left ankle in the third quarter) to win their fifth straight game and firm up their position for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Boston had seven players in double figures, with Sherman Douglas scoring 22 and Dino Radja coming off the bench to add 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Outside of Webber and Muresan, the rest of the Bullets hit just 20 of 56 shots (35.7 percent). The starting backcourt of Calbert Cheaney (17) and Doug Overton (16) were a combined 13 of 35 from the field.
But the player who has disappeared from the Bullets' offense is forward Don MacLean, who scored four. Over his past five games, MacLean has averaged 7.0 points, hitting 12 of 33 shots. Since he was activated off the injured list on Feb. 28 after missing 39 games, first with tendinitis in both knees and then a broken right thumb, MacLean has looked little like the player who averaged 18.2 points and won last year's Most Improved Player award.
"You have to have the ball [to score], but if I were my teammates, I wouldn't pass me the ball either, the way things are going," MacLean said. "In all my years of playing, I've never been able to not shoot the basketball.
"I need to fix it," MacLean said of his finger, which he said is still painful. "Our team doctors don't have the answer. I think something needs to be done. I'm going to seek a second opinion soon."
That's just what the Bullets need, another injury. Rex Chapman missed his third straight with a strained abdominal muscle, and Juwan Howard missed his 10th game with a sprained right ankle.
"I'm thinking of hopefully getting a couple of guys back on Wednesday," Lynam said. "Hopefully, Juwan and Rex will be here."
But that probably won't help the Bullets. Seven games remain, with the Bullets facing six teams (they'll play the Orlando Magic twice). Five of those six teams are fighting either for a playoff spot or playoff positioning, meaning that everyone will be focused. Also meaning the losses probably will continue to mount.
"It's difficult because it affects your entire state of mind," Webber said. "It's definitely hard to handle losing. It's definitely hard to be in this position."
NOTES: Boston had a 40-12 advantage in bench scoring. . . . North Carolina forward Jerry Stackhouse was at the game, and visited the locker rooms afterward.