LANDOVER -- This was the game the Washington Bullets figured to win, the game that would end the streak. The Detroit Pistons were primed to be victimized, winning just one of their previous 10 games in the team's worst start since the 1980-81 season.
Instead the streak reached nine games, as Pistons guard Joe Dumars put on a clutch fourth-quarter shooting exhibition to help Detroit hold off a late rally for a 97-95 win before a sparse crowd of 8,143 at USAir Arena.
The Bullets were without Pervis Ellison, who sat out after complaining about soreness in his left leg, The Pistons were without guard Isiah Thomas, who strained his right arch in Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas did not travel with the team.
Washington went into the final quarter trailing 72-70 and fell back by as much as 87-78 after Dumars (27 points) hit a three-pointer from the left corner with 6:46 left.
But Don MacLean helped the Bullets get back into the game, scoring nine of Washington's next 11 points -- the last two on a layup with 2:03 left that had the Bullets to within 92-89 with 2:03 left.
Dumars responded with a three-pointer with 1:40 left that increased the Detroit lead to 95-89. After Rex Chapman came back 14 seconds later with a three-pointer to pull the Bullets to within 95-92, Dumars -- who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter -- came back with two free throws with 1:13 left that put Detroit up 97-92.
Michael Adams hit a three-pointer with 32.4 left to pull the Bullets to within 97-95 and, after Dumars missed a jumper from the right side with 15.4 seconds left, the Bullets had a chance to either tie or win the game.
But with time running out, Rex Chapman missed a running jumper in the lane. Detroit's Terry Mills rebounded the miss, and the Pistons had the win.
Both teams were even at 12 through the first five minutes of the game when the Bullets went on a 14-4 run that, after a layup by Gugliotta who scored eight during the run, gave Washington a 26-16 lead with 3:07 left in the quarter.
Attacking the basket better than they have in recent games, the Bullets were able to maintain the 10-point advantage after a jump shot by MacLean with 2:04 left gave Washington a 28-18 lead.
But that was the last field goal of the quarter for the Bullets, who watched the Pistons score the final ten points of the period -- the last on a jump shot by Lindsey Hunter just before the buzzer -- that tied the game at 28 despite the fact that Washington outshot Detroit, 56.0 percent to 44.8 percent in the first quarter.
Calbert Chenaey and Rex Chapman were the hot hands for the Bullets at the start of the second quarter, combining to score the first 10 points that kept Washington in front, 38-36, after a running jumper by Cheaney with 7:41 left.
After a jump shot by Joe Dumars with 3:18 left gave Detroit a 45-44 lead, Doug Overton's layup started a 6-0 Washington run that had the Bullets ahead, 51-45, after a jumper by Cheaney (eight points in the second quarter).
But again, the Pistons rallied at the end scoring the last five points, again just beating the buzzer on a jump shot from the top of the key by Dumars that pulled Detroit to within 51-50 at the half.
Detroit trailed by one despite being outshot, 56.8 percent to 46.8 percent, the first 24 minutes. Detroit, led by 12 points each from Sean Elliott and Terry Mills, stayed in the game on the strength of its nine offensive rebounds.
The Bullets were led by Gugliotta, who scored 13 points, and Chapman who added 10. Michael Adams had seven assists in the first half, one game after the Bullets as a team recorded just 12 for the entire game against the Indiana Pacers.
Washington center Kevin Duckworth scored just two points and grabbed two rebounds. But one day after discussing his role with Wes Unseld, Duckworth was on the court for a team-high 21 minutes in the first half.
Duckworth played the entire third quarter, scoring six of Washington's first 12 points that -- after his rebound and hook shot with 6:34 left -- gave Washington a 63-59 lead.
The 7-foot center wold score eight points in the third quarter, and Washington had a 70-67 lead with 3:19 left after a running jumper by Michael Adams.
But once again the Bullets went into a drought to end a quarter, with Detroit once again scoring the last five points -- the final three on a three-pointer by Hunter -- to take a 72-70 lead into the final quarter.