Larry Wright made two free throws with 49 seconds left to provide the winning points tonight in a 106-105 Bullet victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Wright's free throws gave the Bullets a 106-103 lead. John Long, who led the Pistons with 27 points, scored on a layup with eight seconds left, to get his team to within a point, but Detroit never got the ball back and the game ended with Kevin Grevey dribbling it in front court.
Wright was in the game only because Kevin Porter had fouled out, and, with Detroit using a full court press, Bullet Coach Dick Motta wanted Wright's quickness.
"I'm glad I went with Larry," Motta said. "He gave us a spark. He ran some nice plays and he made those free throws."
Wright scored four of the Bullets' final six points and kept the offense functioning smoothly despite the Detroit pressure.
The Bullets beat the Pistons by 28 points at Capital Centre Tuesday night, and had a 12-point halftime lead tonight.
The Pistons slowly crept back and two John Williamson turnovers, resulting in fast-break dunks by Detroit's Long and Greg Kelser, got the Pistons to within two points at 75-73 going into the fourth quarter.
Five straight points by Elvin Hayes gave the Bullets an 85-79 lead with 8-1/2 minutes left.
Kelser, who had 24 points, scored on a tap-in and, after an offensive foul by Porter, Leon Douglas cashed in a slam dunk to cut the Bullet lead to 85-83.
Porter got the advantage back to 87-83 with a driving layup, but Eric Money got those two points back with a 15-footer at the other end.
Porter threw the ball away attempting to penetrate, then committed a back-court foul -- his sixth -- trying to get the ball back.
Terry Tyler made both of the ensuing free throws and the game was tied at 87 with 7:01 left.
The Pistons took the lead on a 16-footer by Long 30 seconds later.
The Detroit press forced two straight Washington turnovers, one by Wes Unseld, the other by Grevey, and the Pistons took a 95-91 lead with 4:41 remaining.
Hayes scored five straight points and Kelser four in a row for the Pistons to make the score 99-96, Detroit, with 3:32 left.
Greg Ballard, who had 25 points, made a 15-footer, followed with two free throws after a loose-ball foul against Kelser, and the Bullets had a 100-99 lead with 3:02 to play.
Two more Ballard free throws a minute later, after the teams exchanged baskets, gave the Bullets a 104-101 lead.
Money cut the margin to 104-103 with a 16-footer with 1:11 left.
Wright made his clinching free throws after Kelser fouled him as he was driving to the basket.
"I was just trying not to make any mistakes," said Wright, who hasn't been playing much lately. "When I went in I just tried to run some of the plays I thought would work that we weren't running.
"They were double-teaming 'E' so I called a couple of plays that brought Greg out high, which made them play 'E' straight and that freed him down low."
John Williamson, usually the Bullets' leading reserve, had a sore knee tonight and wasn't very productive. He went one for 12 Thursday night against the New Jersey Nets and was two for six in 13 minutes tonight.
"My knee felt tight and I was tired," Williamson said. "I really didn't want to play tonight. There's a little fluid on my knee, but I'll be all right for Sunday."
The Bullets conclude this two-game trip Sunday afternoon at the Boston Garden against the Celtics.
"This was one game I figured we had to win," said Motta. "I thought we had control of the game, but then we let them get turned on."
Ballard, normally one of the coolest Bullets, got his first technical foul of the season in the first quarter after he pushed referee Ralph Lembo "to try and get his attention," Ballard said. Ballard said Kelser knocked the ball out of bounds and Lembo gave it to the Pistons, saying Ballard had hit it.