The Washington Bullets' frustrating season enjoyed its first major bright spot last night: a 120-112 overtime victory over the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers before 18,643 at Capital Centre.

Tied at 104 entering the extra period, center Moses Malone scored six points and John Williams came through with six clutch points in the late going to help Washington (5-12) break a four-game losing streak at the expense of the Lakers, who have lost four of their last five games in falling to 10-6.

Besides Malone, who finished with 26 points and nine rebounds and Williams (14 points), Washington received notable efforts from any number of players. Forward Terry Catledge threw his weight around, muscling for 19 points and 15 rebounds; rookie guard Tyrone Bogues came off the bench to pass for nine assists, and Bernard King added 18 points. Los Angeles was led by guard Magic Johnson's 30 points and 14 assists.

Standing in the visitors locker room before the game, Los Angeles Coach Pat Riley scribbled out a list of keys to victory on a blackboard. Under the name Jeff Malone, he wrote "Two dribbles," signifying the tendency of the Bullets guard to bounce the basketball twice before shooting his jump shot after coming around an offensive screen.

Apparently the Lakers failed to heed the warning. One night after a woeful two-for-15 performance in a loss to the New York Knicks, Malone came through with a season-high 29 points before fouling out late in the overtime period.

"Today I did something I hadn't done in a long time, I just sat back in a chair, turned the music up and meditated," Jeff Malone said. "I'm just trying to get consistent; it's not {playing} L.A. I just told myself to play hard and do the things that I can do."

While they aren't leading the NBA in victories, the Bullets may be approaching the league lead in another category: team meetings. Last night, prior to the coaches' arrival, the squad convened in the locker room for the third time to try and iron out exactly what's gone wrong this season. Last night's discussion included owner Abe Pollin, whose words were upbeat. But Moses Malone said the players have to motivate themselves.

"That's the only way we can be a strong team," he said. "We knew that if we played a good solid game we could win but we knew it would be tough."

During the third quarter last night, it appeared the team that lost by 24 points to the lowly Knicks Tuesday would win going away. After leading, 61-55, at halftime, with 18 points from Jeff Malone, 14 from King and seven assists from Bogues, Washington Coach Kevin Loughery started the latter two players in the third quarter. The result was an 86-71 lead after three periods.

Perhaps the best indication of what kind of night it had been for Washington came with about four minutes left in the quarter. Catledge started a fast break but failed to see three open teammates ahead of him. Powering to the basket, he missed a layup but got a break when the ball went out of bounds off a Los Angeles player.

From the inbounds pass the forward scored a layup and was fouled. Catledge missed the free throw, but Moses Malone swooped in for an offensive rebound and a basket.

Any scouting report on the Bullets wouldn't be complete without discussing their tendency to fall apart in the final period. And while that didn't come totally true last night, Los Angeles, led by Johnson and center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (25 points), kept nudging closer and closer, whittling the Bullets' lead bit by bit.

"I'm sure it was in the back of everyone's minds," said Williams of his team's late game maladies. "But we had played so hard all night, I knew we didn't want to be denied."

Even so, with 1:35 remaining in regulation, Washington had the ball and a 104-102 lead. Trying to run out the 24-second clock, a pass by Moses Malone was deflected and lost in a swarm of Lakers defenders. Michael Cooper picked up the loose ball and hit James Worthy, who sent a tip pass to Johnson for the game-tying basket.

Things still appeared to be looking the Bullets way when, after taking possession with 1:09 left, a kicked ball and an offensive rebound put them in control of the basketball with 10 seconds left. However, after a scramble, a pass by King was deflected and stolen by Abdul-Jabbar. After a timeout by Los Angeles, a last-second shot by Johnson from the lane missed and the game went into overtime.

"There have been too many games this season where we have fallen apart in the fourth quarter but tonight we didn't -- that's a good sign," said Loughery. "We didn't get frustrated and worked for our shot at the end. Our team has lacked confidence -- the only way to gain it is to win games, especially the close ones like tonight."

Surprisingly, it was the Lakers who became unglued in the extra session. Cooper turned the ball over twice in the early going and the Bullets converted the miscues into points. With 2:06 left and Washington ahead 112-110, Williams hit a 21-foot jumper that beat the shot clock. Then, with 32 seconds left, the Los Angeles native scored on a lean-in shot from the lane to effectively ice the game.

"We've had some extended rolls over the past three years," Riley said of his team. "Even during games, we'd go on rolls of 20-2 and things like that. That's not reality but our team sometimes thinks that's normal. Now, when you have to get down to reality, we find ourselves having to adjust our thinking."

With the victory and a Friday night game in Detroit against the Pistons on the horizon, perhaps the Bullets' thinking will also undergo some sort of change. Loughery, though, wasn't willing to take any chances.

"Abe did a good job," he said. "We're sending him to Detroit to speak again." L.A. LAKERS Min FG FT R A PF T Green 46 7-13 5-6 8 0 3 19 Worthy 37 8-16 4-5 7 5 6 20 Abdul-Jabbar 40 12-22 1-

Three-point goals -- None. Steals -- L.A. Lakers 9 (M. Johnson 4), Washington 12 (Walker 3). Turnovers -- L

Attendance -- 18,643

Suns Beat Hawks

Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ariz., Dec. 9 -- James Edwards, Larry Nance and Alvan Adams keyed a fourth-quarter surge that carr

The score was tied 16 times, including nine times in the third quarter, before Atlanta took its last lead a

Jeff Hornacek put Phoenix ahead to stay at 75-74 on a three-point goal with three seconds remaining in the

Hornacek opened the fourth quarter with a jumper and a layup before Adams and Nance keyed a 7-2 run for a 9

Adams, who had 10 of his 18 points in a fourth quarter, scored six points in a 1:43 span to make it 101-89