The Washington Bullets scored 18 points while holding Phoenix scoreless for seven minutes in the second half, and came from behind to defeat the Suns, 88-82, last night at Capital Centre.

The Bullets shot 31 percent in the first quarter and fell behind, 26-12, with their lowest-scoring quarter of the season.

They got going after that, however, and with Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland dominating inside and reserves Kevin Grevey and Charles Davis giving them a lift, they wore down the weary Suns.

This was the last of five games on the road for Phoenix and their fourth straight loss. Their 82 points was a season's low.

The Bullets' victory was their second in a row and third in four games after losing nine in a row.

Mahorn, surprisingly, was the offensive star with a season-high 27 points. He made 12 of 17 shots, most of them down low, in the area Ruland usually dominates.

"When Rick is scoring, I stay up top and let him do his thing," said Ruland, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds. "Rick is a good scorer, but we just don't run that many plays for him usually. Tonight we went to him."

The score was tied at 8 when the Bullets went into a sleepwalk. They missed nine straight shots and turned over the ball three times while the Suns scored 10 straight points, four by Maurice Lucas. The Suns had increased their lead to 14 by the end of the quarter.

"I wasn't worried," said Ruland. "I knew we'd come back. We just needed time to get warm."

Davis, moved from shooting guard to his old position at small forward, scored eight points in the second period and the Bullets trailed by six at halftime.

Then, in the third quarter, Grevey had six points and an assist and Mahorn and Ruland continued their effective inside play. The Bullets had tied the score at 63 by the time the period ended.

A free throw by Walter Davis put the Suns ahead, 63-51, with 4:33 left in the period, but Phoenix didn't score again until the fourth quarter was 2 1/2 minutes old. The Bullets' 18 straight points put them ahead, 69-63. Mahorn had six points and Ruland four as the defensive pressure rattled the Suns; in that stretch, Phoenix missed 10 shots and committed six turnovers.

The Bullets led by eight points with 2:48 left, but Phoenix rallied and closed to 84-82 with 76 seconds to play after two baskets by Lucas and two free throws by Dennis Johnson. Then Mahorn scored inside and, after an offensive foul on Larry Nance, guard Ricky Sobers made two free throws for the Bullets.

Sobers, in his first start for Washington made only one of 12 shots, but had eight assists and three steals.

"This was kind of remarkable," said Coach Gene Shue. "It looked like we were going to be so far out of it. Greg (Ballard) couldn't hit a shot, but we got a big lift from Grevey and Charles and Rick was steady all night long."

Ballard, who scored 34 points in Thursday's victory over Seattle, made only three of 15 shots and missed both free throws in scoring a season-low six points. It was the first time in 30 games he failed to score in double figures. Grevey had nine points in 16 minutes.

Walter Davis was high scorer for Phoenix with 20 points. Lucas scored 18 points and Alvan Adams 16 for the Suns, who were outrebounded, 45-39.

But it was Nance, with 12 points, who excited the crowd of 7,027 the most with two spectacular dunks. One was a reverse slam after he twisted his way between two Bullets.

The Bullets played without starting strong forward Spencer Haywood, who had flu. Rookie Dave Batton started in his place and made his only shot in 12 minutes.

This was the second game of a seven-game homestand for the Bullets, who next play Wednesday against Kansas City.