EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., DEC. 12 -- Continuing their improved play, the Washington Bullets defeated the New Jersey Nets, 122-107, tonight at Brendan Byrne Arena.
The Bullets (6-13) put the game away with 15 consecutive points in the fourth quarter. The catalyst of the spurt, as well as most of the evening, was forward Bernard King, who came off the bench to score a season-high 32 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists.
The Nets, meanwhile, lost their 11th straight game, getting 21 points from guard Otis Birdsong.
The Bullets got their third road victory of the season. Last year, they didn't get their third road win until Dec. 18. Of course, it helps that two of the three victories away from home have come against the lowly Nets, but King said that factor is irrelevant.
"We won, that's the bottom line. We need every win we can get," he said. "You might say that it was only against the Nets, but we're a struggling team as well. From that standpoint, it's just good to get a win."
For the third consecutive game, Washington got a strong effort from its starting lineup and inspired play by its reserves. Jeff Malone and John Williams each had 17 points, Moses Malone 15 and Darrell Walker 12 as the Bullets hit on 56 percent of their field goal attempts. Guard Tyrone Bogues set up the good shooting by coming off the bench and passing for eight assists.
The visitors were also in control of the backboards until the closing minutes, when the game had long been decided. Leading, 85-76, after three quarters, Washington increased its advantage to 98-85 after a driving layup by King with 7:48 remaining.
The Nets took a timeout, ostensibly to set up their closing charge. Instead, the roof fell in. Birdsong scored on a jumper from the left corner but King answered with a jumper of his own.
By the time New Jersey scored again -- on another jumper by Birdsong -- almost four minutes had elapsed and the Bullets had come up with their best sustained effort of the season, increasing their lead to 113-87.
Seven of the Bullets' 15 straight points were scored by King, who treated what was left of the announced crowd of 11,746 to a display of slashing moves to the basket and spinning jump shots from a variety of angles.
One of the observers seated at courtside was Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Richie Adubato, who served in a similar capacity with the New York Knicks when King led the NBA in scoring for that club in the 1984-85 season.
As King scored a three-point play following a drive from the left wing, Adubato smiled.
"We used to try and get it to him there 10 times a game, that was our team's goal," he said. "We knew if we did it, he'd score on nine of them; if our point guards didn't do it, it was a bad night."
King's total was almost exactly twice his average this season, but the look on his face in the Bullets' locker room afterward was the same as the night before, when he scored seven points in a 114-108 loss to Detroit.
"I've always said that the season is 82 games long," remarked King.
A similar attitude could be beneficial to each of the Bullets as they enter perhaps the most favorable stretch of their 1987-88 schedule. Beginning with Tuesday's game against the Boston Celtics, Washington plays four straight contests at Capital Centre. In fact, between then and January 18, the Bullets are home for 11 of 13 games.
"We gotta beat those guys," said Moses Malone of the Celtics. "They've been losing so they probably got revenge in their heads. We've gotta have the same thing; we're playing at home now, we gotta start winning games."