LANDOVER -- One night after getting their first win of the season, the Washington Bullets had little time to savor their accomplishment -- not with the first-place New York Knicks coming to town.
And the Knicks, Atlantic Division champions last season who are picked by many as the top team in the Eastern Conference this season, proved to have too many weapons as they fought off a late Bullets rally for a 92-84 win before a crowd of 13,522 at the USAir Arena.
Former New York first-round pick Kenny Walker led the Bullets with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Don MacLean had another strong performance with 16 points.
The Knicks were led by Patrick Ewing and John Starks, who scored 28 and 27 points, respectively.
The Bullets were down by 17 points after three quarters, but got the crowd into the game with a 10-0 run to start the final period. LaBradford Smith scored the first four points, MacLean then converted two straight three-point plays, and with 9:35 left in the game, the Bullets had closed to within 79-72.
But the Knicks, kept scoreless for nearly the first half of the fourth quarter by Washington's aggressive defense, got untracked when Starks hit a three-pointer with 6:22 left to increase the lead to 82-72. After Walker missed two free throws ** for the Bullets, Doc Rivers followed with another three-pointer and then Charles Oakley scored on a break away dunk. Just like that, the New York lead was 87-72 with 5:21 left.
A jumper by Doug Overton with 4:35 left started Washington on a 10-1 run. But the Knicks were seemingly never out of control of the game, and with Ewing closing out the scoring with four points in the final minute, New York had the win.
Already hurting with three players on the injured list, the Bullets got a big scare nearly two minutes into the game when Tom Gugliotta lay prone on the floor for several minutes after being hit by Rivers and Anthony Mason while attempting a running jump shot. Gugliotta suffered a bruised right hip and left the floor, but later returned in the second quarter.
MacLean, Washington's spark off the bench who tied a career high with 24 points against Detroit, was not as fortunate. He appeared to injure his knee with 1:43 left in the first quarter after being hit low by Oakley and did not return until the third quarter.
Still, the Bullets managed to be competitive with the Knicks in the first quarter. Starks got off to a fast start for New York, scoring nine points in the first 5:08 of the game -- the last three coming on a three-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Knicks its biggest lead of the quarter, 15-6.
Washington responded with a 9-3 run, beginning with a Kevin Duckworth hook shot and ending with the 7-footer scoring on a tip that had Washington within 18-15 with 3:15 left. The Bullets shot just five of 19 from the field in the first quarter (New York was 10 of 19), but trailed by just 26-20.
The second quarter became the Kenny Walker show. Playing against his former team for the first time, Walker soared through the lane and followed up a Doug Overton miss with a powerful two hand dunk for Washington's first points of the quarter. Walker scored six points during the 14-9 run the Bullets had at the start of the quarter, and after a layup by Smith with 5:06 left Washington trailed by just 35-34.
But New York responded by going to its power game, with a
Patrick Ewing dunk starting an 8-0 run that increased the New York lead to 43-34 with 3:05 left in the half. The Knicks had their biggest lead of the half after Hubert Davis converted a three-point play with 1:06 left for a 46-36 lead. New York took a 49-39 lead into the half.
Walker had nine points and eight rebounds in the second quarter, and his 14 points and 10 rebounds were two of the few highlights for the Bullets in the first half. As a team, the Bullets shot 30.2 percent from the field (13 of 43) in the first half. New York was 48.6 percent from the field, with Ewing and Starks scoring 15 and 11 points, respectively.
It didn't get any better for Washington in the third quarter as Ewing and Starks combined to score 16 of New York's first 20 second-half points. A three-pointer by Starks with 4:28 left in the third gave New York a 69-50 lead.
The frustration of the night began to settle in as Duckworth was tossed out of the game with 4:14 left in the quarter after first being called for an offensive foul and then a technical foul. An upset Duckworth, who finished the night with eight points and six rebounds while battling Ewing, shouted at officials as he was escorted off the court.
VTC With the 6-foot-8 Walker forced to check Ewing after the ejection, it didn't help the Bullets' cause. A three-point play by Ewing with 3:38 left gave New York its biggest lead of the quarter, 75-64, and the Knicks went into the final period with a 79-62 lead.
New York ..26 23 30 13 -- 92
Washington 20 19 23 22 -- 84