The Washington Bullets faltered in the final two minutes again tonight and the Indiana Pacers behind Mickey Johnson and Billy Knight, stormed to a 118-108 victory.
The beleagured Bullets were down by one point, 105-104, with 2:36 to play, but were outscored, 13-4, the rest of the way. They are now 2-5 and are winless in four road games.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are 4-0 at Market Square Arena, 4-5 overall.
Greg Ballard scored a career-high 26 points and added 12 rebounds, but neither he nor any of his teammates could come up with the moves to counter the Pacers in the final two minutes.
An ineffective Kevin Porter was on the bench and Elvin Hayes was in the dressing room suffering from throat spasms. Hayes, who said he has had the problem before, started gagging and said he had difficulty breathing. He removed himself from the game with 4:03 to play and the Bullets behind, 101-98.
Hayes had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Johnson, a Chicago Bull last year signed with Indiana as a free agent in the offseason and has become the Pacers steadiest performer. As their sixth man, he made 11 of 15 shots from the field tonight and scored 25 points. He also had 14 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals and a blocked shot in one of the best all-around performances in the NBA this season.
Teammate Billy Knight scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 22.
The Bullets, who do not play again until Wednesday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital Centre, took a seven-point lead, 69-62, on two free throws by Bob Dandridge mid-way through the third period. It appeared that they were starting to take command of the game, but the Pacers responded with a 12-2 scoring spurt with 7-foot center James Edwards and Knight each scoring four points.
A Ballard layup after a find feed from Dandridge got the Bullets back to within a point, 105-104, but Edwards scored a three-point play over Unseld with 2:18 to play and the Pacers were on their way.
On their final six possessions, the Bullets scored only twice. The Pacers, meanwhile, scored on six of their last seven possessions.
Ballard scored 14 of his 18 first-half points in the second quarter. He also connected with his first three-point field goal.
But this was Johnson's night. The 6-8 forward scored 30 points in the Pacers' loss to Philadelphia Wednesday and, going into tonight's game, had averaged 28.3 points in the last three games.
He scored in a variety of ways tonight. He was deadly from 16 feet and he weasled inside for offensive rebounds, or slick baseline moves.
He then would move outside and control the ball, looking for players cutting inside. He was always there to give the Pacers a lift when they needed it. He scored four of their first eight points to start the second quarter and assisted on two more. He also scored six of their first 10 in the third quarter and their first seven points of the final period.
Wes Unseld turned in another strong game for the Bullets with 11 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, but playmaker Porter had another off night. He scored only four points and had five assists and four turnovers playing only 22 minutes.
That enabled Larry Wright to play 26 minutes. He made five of nine shots and had seven assists, but fouled out in the final 12 seconds. That was hardly his fault. He picked up a majority of his fouls when he was caught alone as the only Bullet back against three-on-one Indiana fast breaks. He had two blocked shots in those situations.
"Larry was just doing a better job than Kevin so I stayed with him," Bullet Coach Dick Motta said.
The Bullets played the game without regular starting guard Kevin Grevey, who is suffering from a hamstring muscle injury.
The Bullets have had their regular starting lineup on the floor in only one game.