The Washington Bullets were down by one point with 25 seconds left in overtime yesterday and Michael Ray Richardson had just put up a 20-footer. Kevin Grevey knew it was time to run.

Grevey ran toward the opposite basket when Richardson released the ball. When the shot missed, Greg Ballard rebounded and passed to Grevey on the fast break. Grevey's layup gave the Bullets a 110-109 lead with 16 seconds remaining and sent them to a 113-109 victory over the New York Knicks before 11,116 at Capital Centre.

"You're always taught to screen your man out and then go for the rebound," Grevey said. But he didn't do it.

"Something just said for me to go," said Grevey, who scored the Bullets' final seven points of the game, all in 45 seconds. "It was a gamble. It was the first time I'd done it all night and it could have backfired. Richardson could have followed the shot in and gotten his own rebound and scored, but we had been controlling the boards pretty well the whole game and so I took a chance."

"It's an instinct play," Coach Gene Shue said. "The player has to sense when to do it and when not to."

When Ballard got the rebound, only one Knick player, Maurice Lucas, was back to contend with Grevey and Spencer Haywood. Grevey had a step on Lucas and Lucas never made a play on him. "I didn't want to risk a foul at that point," Lucas said.

After Grevey scored and the Knicks called time with 16 seconds left, Sly Williams saw an opening down the lane. But Williams, who finished with 22 points, bounced the shot off the rim. Haywood rebounded and passed to Ballard. Ballard found Grevey alone under the basket. As Grevey made a layup with two seconds left, Richardson fouled him. Grevey's foul shot ended the scoring and the Bullets had their second straight victory and second in overtime against New York this season.

"This was a game we really wanted badly," Shue said. "It was really, really big. It puts the Knicks five games back in the loss column and that's an awful lot to make up."

The Knicks are one of the teams the Bullets are battling for the playoffs. The Bullets are 27-28 and the Knicks 26-33. The top six teams in each conference will make the playoffs; the Bullets are fifth-best in the East.

Lucas carried the Knicks through four quarters by scoring 32 of his 33 points on 15 of 20 field goal attempts. But Haywood held him to one point in the overtime.

"I knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do, and I wasn't going to let him," said Haywood, who led the Bullets with 24 points.

The Knicks led by 10 points early in the third period, but Washington, with Jeff Ruland and Haywood leading the way, overtook them and seemingly took control, 99-93, with 2:44 left in regulation.

But the Bullets didn't score again in regulation, and Lucas' 15-footer with 46 seconds left made it 99-99.

When Grevey missed a 15-footer, the Knicks had a chance to win. But Richardson's jumper at the buzzer was short.

New York took a 106-101 lead two minutes into overtime. Williams had five of the points, including a three-point field goal from 27 feet. But Haywood scored with an offensive rebound and made two foul shots. Lucas made a foul shot, but the Knicks led only 107-105 with 1:50 remaining.

Lucas was called for an offensive foul while trying to get position on Haywood on the Knicks' next possession. Frank Johnson made one of two foul shots and it was 107-106 with 1:25 to go.

After Richardson made a 16-footer with 60 seconds left, Grevey took over.

The Bullet guard missed a three-point shot but Williams fouled him. Grevey made both foul shots to cut the gap to one point with 45 seconds left. Then came Grevey's breakaway.

The victory was especially sweet for the Bullets because they played without center Rick Mahorn, who has a sprained right ankle. It was the first game Mahorn has missed all season.

Jim Chones started for Mahorn and had two points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. Ruland, with 18 points and 15 rebounds, played some center, as did Haywood. Mahorn is expected to play Tuesday against the New Jersey Nets at Capital Centre.