RICHMOND, OCT. 24 -- Playing their second exciting game in as many nights, the Washington Bullets nevertheless lost their fourth straight NBA exhibition contest. Tonight, they were 120-108 victims of the New York Knicks at the Richmond Coliseum.

As was the case in Friday night's 113-106 Capital Centre loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bullets mustered a rally from a third-quarter deficit but fell short at the end. Unlike Friday's game, in which most of the Lakers' stars were seated on the bench in the closing moments, the Knicks, 2-2 in the preseason, had four starters on the floor.

Two of them, former Georgetown star Patrick Ewing and guard Gerald Wilkins, combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter against a group of Washington reserves. The only Bullets starter to play in the final 12 minutes was rookie point guard Tyrone Bogues.

Even so, Coach Kevin Loughery expressed concern at the direction his team seems headed with the opening of the regular season less than two weeks away.

"It's a concern," he said of the team's absence of exhibition victories. "You don't like to lose . . . We were using second-line players at the end, but some of them will make our club and they have to produce."

All-star center Moses Malone, bothered by a sore ankle, played only the opening 12 minutes for Washington, scoring six points. However, the Bullets did receive impressive performances from substitute forward John Williams and guard Patrick Fairs.

Williams led the Bullets with 20 points in 24 minutes. Fairs, a fifth-round draft choice from Texas, had 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench.

Wilkins led all scorers with 24 points, three more than Ewing, and reserve center Bill Cartwright contributed 18 for New York.

Under first-year coach Rick Pitino from Providence College, the Knicks are employing a run-and-press style of play, one matched for the most part by Washington's reserves. That helped set a frantic pace for much of the game, reflected in part by the teams' combined 52 turnovers, 30 by the Bullets.

The miscues sent New York out to an 89-84 lead after three periods, but Williams scored eight points and Fairs four to help Washington close to within 100-99, with 7:18 remaining. The Knicks responded with eight consecutive points that started a 14-3 run to take control of the game.

"That was a good situation for us to get that type of game," Loughery said about the Knicks' relentless pressure and the overall pace of the contest. "But now we've got to get our club down.

"We'll have four good days of practice before our next game. it's a good schedule for us." NEW YORK Min FG FT R A PF T Cummings 26 2-6 0-0 6 4 2 4 Walker 19 1-4 1-2 3 2 5 3 Ewing 23 9-14 3-4 8 2 2 21

Three-point goal -- Adams. Steals -- New York 16 (Wilkins 5), Washington 11 (Bogues 3). Turnovers -- New Yo

Attendance -- 4,527.