Jeff Malone scored a career-high 43 points as the Washington Bullets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, 124-116, and ended a five-game NBA losing streak.
There were a number of outstanding performers in the victory for Washington, which improved its record to 24-26.
Foremost was Malone, whose previous career high was 40 points, scored last season against the Trail Blazers and equaled this season against the Chicago Bulls.
Still heady from his all-star debut Sunday in Dallas, the third-year guard shot 15 for 26 from the field.
"Malone was hot," said Bullets Coach Gene Shue. "He was very hot. He was more than hot. He played brilliantly, and so did the rest of the team.
"Generally, we struggle offensively. Tonight that wasn't the case."
Cliff Robinson added 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gus Williams had 14 points. Off the bench, Dan Roundfield scored 15 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds, and Darren Daye scored nine points and had nine assists. Mychal Thompson led Portland with 20 points.
"Everybody had it going tonight," said Malone, who had more of it going than anyone else. "We were executing well, and my shot felt great."
The Bullets' Jeff Ruland, still bothered by a tender right ankle, did not play. But Portland's Sam Bowie, who has been out for more than a month with a deep bruise in his left leg, started at center.
Early in the game, the Bullets fell behind, 8-3. Kiki Vandeweghe scored six of the points for Portland. When the high-scoring forward had a shot rejected by Manute Bol, though, the Bullets came back.
They outscored Portland by 11-4 to take a 14-12 lead with 6:50 to play in the period. Leading the way for Washington was Robinson, who scored seven points during the stretch.
The score seesawed over the next three minutes, but the Bullets were able to maintain a two-point lead, 23-21, with 3:05 remaining in the quarter. Malone scored six points in the span and Daye had five.
By the end of the period, the Bullets had a 37-25 lead, the result of a fine collective effort.
Bol led the spurt on the defensive end, in one sequence blocking three consecutive shots. Each was converted into Washington points. Daye scored another basket, Leon Wood hit for a field goal and Malone got the last eight points of the quarter for Washington.
Portland made a sizable dent into the Bullets' lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, mainly at the expense of the Washington substitutes. The Trail Blazers' second-team players scored nine of the first 11 points in the period to move to within five, 39-34, with 8:46 remaining in the half. Guards Terry Porter and Steve Colter each had two baskets for Portland.
Things didn't get better for the Bullets after a timeout. Kevin McKenna had the ball stripped away on a shot, and the steal led to another basket by Porter.
A jumper by Williams with 7:17 to play gave the Bullets a 41-38 lead. That was their biggest lead over the next five minutes. With 2:09 remaining in the half, Washington was in front, 52-49.
At intermission the Bullets led, 60-53, with the last points scored on a jumper by Robinson at the buzzer. Malone led Washington with 16 points in the first half, followed by Robinson's 13. Colter had 10 for Portland.
The Bullets, who shot 53 percent from the field in the first half, took a 72-60 lead with 7:41 to play in the third quarter. Malone added six more points, and Robinson contributed another four in Washington's 12-7 run.
Portland took a timeout to regroup. Although the Trail Blazers didn't score immediately after the break, they did get a bonus when Bol, with four points and five blocked shots at the half, picked up his fourth personal foul.
The way the Bullets were playing offensively, however, the temporary loss of their defensive anchor didn't seem to matter. Executing exceptionally well, they pushed their lead to 81-66 with four minutes to play in the third quarter. Still leading the way was Malone, who had four more points.
A half-court trap paid dividends for the Trail Blazers over the remainder of the quarter, helping cut Washington's lead to 86-77 with a minute left. But the Bullets responded with a 5-1 burst to take a 91-78 lead after three quarters, the last points coming on Williams' three-point field goal with three seconds remaining.