NEW YORK, DEC. 8 -- Before they scored a point tonight against the New York Knicks, the Washington Bullets missed seven shots and committed four turnovers, creating a 9-0 hole. To open the second half, the Bullets allowed the home team to score the first 10 points. And after rallying in the fourth quarter, the Bullets watched as New York went on another 10-0 run.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Bullets had lost their fourth straight game, 116-92.

The Bullets' record fell to 4-12 on the season after a laughable, 30-turnover performance. The Bullets' attention now turns to the much tougher Los Angeles Lakers, who come to sold-out Capital Centre Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

One shudders to think what a team as talented as the Lakers might have done with such largesse from an opponent. As it was, because they were only facing New York -- which broke a four-game losing streak and improved to 5-12 -- the Bullets actually had a shot at coming away with a triumph.

But that was long forgotten by the time former Georgetown center Patrick Ewing had scored the last of his 29 points, which included 16 in the third period. In addition, Knicks reserve center Bill Cartwright had 23 points and seldom-used forward Pat Cummings had 14, hitting seven of nine shots from the field.

Washington was led by ex-Knicks Darrell Walker and Bernard King, who had 19 points each. Center Moses Malone scored 18 points but had nine turnovers as the Bullets lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

"There's too much pressure on the second unit, the first isn't carrying its load," Bullets Coach Kevin Loughery said. "It's hard to find people on the first group who seem to enjoy playing with one another; the second has so much life and chemistry."

After its slow start, Washington trailed, 36-26, after the first period, staying that close largely because of 12 points from King, who received a warm ovation from many of the 12,931 fans in attendance upon his return to Madison Square Garden.

At the start of the second period, Walker scored six points and Tyrone Bogues and John Williams combined for another five as the visitors rallied to take the lead. Mixing starters and reserves, the Bullets went ahead, 50-47. At the half, New York led, 55-54.

Loughery returned to the Bullets' starting lineup of Moses Malone, Charles Jones, Terry Catledge, Frank Johnson and Jeff Malone to begin the second half. And the Knicks returned to dominance, with Ewing working hard inside to score six of New York's points in its 10-0 run.

"We just knew we had to win tonight, that was the bottom line," said Ewing.

"We don't help each other out on defense and we're not executing on offense," said Jeff Malone, who missed 12 of 14 shots from the field. "That's why our shooting is so poor. It seems like everything is pressed, all our shots are runners, lots of leaners. I don't understand that; there's not a lot of enthusiasm out there. The second group gets easier shots but they're always having to press and trap to get us back in the game."

Even the second group's efforts couldn't stop Washington from falling behind by 85-69 after the third quarter. But 2 1/2 minutes into the final period, after four points from Catledge and two each by Moses Malone and Bogues, the Bullets had rallied to 85-77.

Walker's driving basket closed the gap to 89-82 with 7:44 left, leaving many to wonder if either team was worthy of victory. But New York Coach Rick Pitino had chewed his team out more recently than Loughery -- this past Monday as opposed to last Saturday. Perhaps that's as good a reason as any to explain why the home team scored the next 10 points and 14 of 16, all but four of the points coming from Cartwright and Cummings.

"We knew we had to just forget about what's happened," said Knicks guard Gerald Wilkins. "{Pitino} said we just had to go out and make it a brand new season."

That kind of thinking may be enforced upon Washington if the team's current trend continues much longer.

"I don't know what's wrong, I can't tell you," said Moses Malone. "If we don't do things right, we won't be nowhere. We've gotta establish what we'll do -- hammer 'em, get people in foul trouble and help each other out on defense. We've got 12 guys working hard but we ought to know by now what it takes to win."

Lakers 98, Nets 81:

In East Rutherford, N.J., Magic Johnson had 13 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles ended a three-game losing streak and handed New Jersey its ninth straight setback.

Los Angeles led, 37-33, in the second period when Johnson began to dominate. He passed to Mychal Thompson for a breakaway layup, stole the ball at the other end of the court and passed to Byron Scott for a layup. He then grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the court and was fouled, making one shot. Johnson capped the run by hitting Scott with a pass for an 18-foot jumper that gave Los Angeles a 44-33 lead.

The Lakers' James Worthy, who had missed four of the last five games with tendinitis in his left knee, had 18 points.

Rockets 106, Kings 97:

Akeem Olajuwon scored 26 points and Purvis Short had 25 to help Houston win at home. Short made seven of nine shots in the first half against Sacramento as Houston built a 12-point lead.

Sacramento, though, rallied to gain a seven-point lead after three quarters. Houston then took control early in the final period with 16 straight points led by Olajuwon (11 rebounds), who had three baskets in the run.

Rodney McCray's three-point play put the Rockets ahead for good with 6:37 to play.

Pistons 127, Trail Blazers 117:

Bill Laimbeer scored 30 points, Isiah Thomas had 25 points and 18 assists and Rick Mahorn had 20 points and 20 rebounds as Detroit, at home, end Portland's nine-game winning streak.

Detroit's Adrian Dantley (17 points) became the 13th player in NBA history to score 20,000 points. He reached the plateau with 13 seconds left on a driving layup.

76ers 109, Bulls 96:

Charles Barkley scored 32 points and reserve guard Gerald Henderson led a fourth-quarter surge with 13 of his 16 points as visiting Philadelphia handed Chicago its third straight loss.

Chicago's Michael Jordan had 33 points, 14 coming in the final period.

But Henderson gave the 76ers to a 90-82 edge with 6:24 left on two of baskets.

Pacers 103, Bucks 101:

Steve Stipanovich scored 24 points and Herb Williams had 21 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana at home.

Jack Sikma and Paul Pressey each hit a three-point shot in the final 30 seconds to help pull the Bucks within 102-101. Indiana's Vern Fleming made a foul shot with seven seconds left, and Milwaukee's Craig Hodges missed a shot at the buzzer.

Milwaukee's Terry Cummings had 17 points in his first game since recovering from a back injury.

SuperSonics 107, Cavaliers 96:

Dale Ellis scored 15 fourth-quarter points as Seattle, at home, ended Cleveland's three-game winning streak. Ellis and Xavier McDaniel led Seattle with 25 points each.

Hawks 90, Clippers 79:

In Los Angeles, Kevin Willis had 16 points and Atlanta won its fifth staight. It was the sixth straight game the Clippers failed to score 100 points.

Spurs 105, Jazz 100:

Frank Brickowski scored a career-high 27 points to lead San Antonio to its sixth straight home victory.