The Bullets' road miseries continue. The Los Angeles Lakers held off a fourth-quarter Washington comeback tonight for a 107-98 victory at the Forum as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history.
Playing without Kevin Grevey, serving a one-game suspension for bumping an official, the Bullets lost their fourth game in a row and watched their road record fall to 3-16. Their guard play, a major problem, helped the Lakers' Norm Nixon equal his career high of 30 points and also make 12 assists.
Forward Jamaal Wilkes scored 23 and Abdul-Jabbar 22.
Mitch Kupchak led the Bullets with 17 points, followed by Elvin Hayes with 16 and Wes Unseld 15.
Trailing most of the game, Washington crept within three points with 2:45 left when Greg Ballard missed a baseline jumper.
Abul-Jabbar took down the rebound and hit a jumper at the other end. Another jumper by Michael Cooper followed, and Washington fell to 16-25. The next game on this five-game road trip for Washington is Thursday night at Kansas City.
"At first I thought it was going in but a man came flying out at me at the last second and blinded my vision," Ballard explained. "I felt extremely good about our chances at that point. I thought we had an opportunity to pull it out if we hit some clutch shots and didn't turn the ball over."
"I'm encouraged by the fact we had a good chance to win this game," said Coach Gene Shue. "Ballard had a wide-open shot and if he puts it in it's a one-point game. We have trouble scoring points. We're doing what we can, which is not very good."
The Bullets trailed by as many as 10 points in the first quarter before Wes Matthews led a Washington comeback. They finally took a 31-30 lead, early in the second period on an Elvin Hayes dunk.
They were in front by four, 35-31, when the Lakers came to life. It was 43-43 when Los Angeles ran off 13 straight points in a three-minute span that began with two jump shots by Wilkes. At the half, the Lakers led, 60-47, thanks in part to Wilkes' 19 points and 15 by Nixon, who also had nine assists.
Washington shot just 35 percent from the field.
Abdul-Jabbar had 11 points at the half and he surpassed former Laker great Jerry West as the NBA's fourth all-time scorer with a three-point play that gave him 25,194 career points.
With Matthews and Andre McCarter, a former UCLA point guard, leading the way, the Bullets rallied toward the end of the third quarter.
Washington closed within five points at one stage in the third and went into the final period trailing by six, 81-75.