The Washington Bullets came close to blowing a 21-point fourth-quarter lead tonight, but beat back a San Diego rally and held on for a 95-87 victory at the Sports Arena, ending their losing streak at five.
The Clippers scored 13 straight points in one stretch of the final period, and were down by only five with 1:22 left. But the Bullets recouped with four straight points on foul shots by Frank Johnson and Charles Davis and a fast-break basket by Don Collins. The Bullets are 4-8.
Jeff Ruland led Washington with 25 points and 17 rebounds. He fouled out with 2:11 left and the Bullets leading by 10 points.
Davis provided 17 points for the winners as a reserve. Rick Mahorn had 14 rebounds.
Terry Cummings had 20 and Bill Walton 15 for San Diego. Walton had 12 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
"We played a terrific game," Coach Gene Shue of the Bullets said. "It was a great performance from Jeff. Everyone really played hard tonight and that's what we have to do every single night if we expect to win any games."
The Bullets shot only 45 percent, but, as is usually the case when they win, their defense carried them.
"The one difference is that we were talking to each other on defense," Davis said. "We were able to concentrate more than we have been and we just have to keep that up now."
The victory, in addition to ending the losing streak, evened the Bullets' record on the four-game road trip at 1-1. They don't play again until Wednesday in Phoenix.
The Clippers went into the game at 2-9, but with a lineup of Cummings and Tom Chambers at forwards, Walton at center and Lionel Hollins and Al Wood at guards, not as pushovers.
This was only Walton's third game this season as he is still on a game-a-week schedule. In his two games before tonight, he averaged 14 points.
The big man for the Clippers has been the 6-foot-9 Cummings. The rookie from De Paul didn't sign until the Clippers had played four games, but once they got him into uniform, their fortunes turned.
The Clippers jumped to an 8-0 lead as the Bullets missed their first 10 shots and didn't score until Johnson made a 15-foot jump shot 4 minutes 19 seconds into the game.
After a timeout in which Shue vented his displeasure, the Bullets came out strongly.
After Johnson's basket, Billy Ray Bates made two jumpers around a jumper by Wood, cutting San Diego's lead to 10-6. Chambers made a layup, but the Bullets spurted to an 18-12 lead with 2:36 left in the quarter. Ruland had six of the points and Greg Ballard four.
The Clippers broke the Bullet streak with a three-point play by Cummings, but the Bullets maintained a 21-18 lead at the quarter.
Washington missed its first five shots in the second period and turned the ball over on its next possession, but all San Diego made in that span was a basket by rookie Craig Hodges.
Davis made three straight 18-foot jump shots from the right side for the Bullets and Walton a layup for San Diego and the Bullets led by five. Walton scored again on a dunk, then a 17-footer by Hodges and a base-line jumper by Hollins regained the lead for the home team, 28-27.
The lead changed three times after that before Collins scored on a fast break and Davis on an 18-footer to put the Bullets up, 35-32. Back-to-back layups by John Lucas and an offensive rebound basket by Ruland made it 41-34 before the Clippers cut their halftime gap to 41-38.
Ruland scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the third period and the Bullets outscored the Clippers, 32-18, to take a 73-56 lead into the final 12 minutes.