LANDOVER -- The Philadelphia 76ers could have been expected to come into last night's game at USAir Arena with a slight swagger. They had won five straight games on Washington's home court and their only wins this season -- one in the regular season and one in the preseason -- had come against the Bullets.
But afterward the only swagger was in the Washington locker room, as the Bullets, with perhaps their best effort of the young season, defeated the Sixers, 105-93, before a sellout crowd of 18,756.
Six players scored in double figures for the Bullets (2-3), led by Tom Gugliotta's 22 points and Rex Chapman's 20. Free agents Kenny Walker and Mitchell Butler also played significant roles when Washington went to its small lineup.
Walker, coming off an 18-point, 14-rebound effort against New York, grabbed 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Butler, whose 23 minutes accounted for his most extended play of the season, had 10 points and nine rebounds.
"This is the third night we've used it," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said of the small lineup, which helped in the team's first win over Detroit on Tuesday. It features Gugliotta at center and Butler and Walker at forward. "Kenny and Mitchell are two very athletic people and allow us to use it."
Last night also marked the first time this season that Unseld has not started rookie Calbert Cheaney. He was scoreless in nine minutes against the Knicks on Wednesday and was replaced at small forward by Don MacLean. As a reserve, Cheaney scored six points in 13 minutes last night.
In starting MacLean at small forward for the first time this season, Unseld was going with the hot hand. MacLean's 16 points last night put his average at 16.2 per game, second on the team to Gugliotta's 17.0 average. Cheaney is averaging 8.8 points.
Washington got its first home win of the season by attacking the Sixers. A week ago, the Bullets appeared a bit tentative as they had 14 shots blocked -- eight by 7-foot-6 rookie center Shawn Bradley. Last night, Bradley had seven of the Sixers' 10 blocks, but Washington still had more success going to the basket strongly, scoring 48 points in the paint.
"That had nothing to do with Bradley," Unseld said. "We're trying to get more in the post to get some fouls shots. In order for us to do what we do best -- shoot jump shots -- we have to establish something in the low post."
Philadelphia had its biggest lead early in the second quarter after Warren Kidd converted a three-point play with 11:14 left.
Washington, with its smaller lineup on the court, responded with a 10-2 run that tied it at 28 after a fast-break dunk by Butler.
The Bullets established the tone of the game on the first play of the second quarter, when Chapman was fouled as he attempted to dunk on Bradley. The Bullets continued to take the ball to the basket in the second quarter, with nine of their 13 second-quarter field goals coming in the paint.
Gugliotta, who scored 10 of his points in the first half, scored on two layups in the final 46 seconds to give the Bullets a 48-44 halftime lead.
Washington opened it up in the third quarter, taking a 63-53 lead after MacLean scored on a jump hook over Bradley with seven minutes left. The Bullets took an 81-69 lead into the final quarter and had their biggest edge, 90-70, after Walker hit one of two free throws with 8:15 left.
"We started taking the ball to the basket, and that opened up our shooters like Rex and Googs," MacLean said. "Our defense turned it on and the result was a lot of fast breaks [16 points off the break] for the offense."
Chapman, who had gone 0-for-7 from the floor in 28 minutes against the Knicks, was 8-for-14 from the field last night in helping the Bullets to 46.7 percent shooting.
"That's just a credit to Rex," Unseld said. "As we often say, you're only as good as your last game. You don't want to be considered as good as [Chapman's New York performance].
Said Chapman, who made several dazzling dunks in traffic: "Last game I wasn't effective with my jumper and I knew I had to take the ball to the basket."
Gugliotta has been an effective rebounder this season, but he has struggled on offense, shooting just 38.3 percent from the field before last night. He was 8-for-13 against Philadelphia.
"I was, needless to say, happy," Gugliotta said. "I played well on the road a couple of games, but this was my first good performance at home. The team played well all around, and that allowed me to play well."
And it allowed the Bullets to go into their four-day break on an upbeat note. Their next game is Wednesday, when the Milwaukee Bucks come to Landover.