PHILADELPHIA, JAN. 20 -- Using a 14-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter as a catalyst, the Washington Bullets got strong efforts from virtually the entire team and took a 110-98 decision tonight over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Center Moses Malone led Washington (13-21) with 22 points and cleared 12 rebounds but that was just one facet of the victory. Terry Catledge, for example, had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Jeff Malone scored 19 points. Off the bench, John Williams scored 20 points, Frank Johnson provided 12 and Tyrone Bogues came through with seven points and six assists.
Bernard King delivered yet another telltale sign of the scope of Washington's revival for a 5-2 record since Wes Unseld took over as coach.
Struggling through a scoreless, zero-for-six opening half, King finished the game with only eight points. However, he registered a season-high 11 rebounds and assisted on six baskets.
In addition, reserve center Manute Bol blocked four shots, including a pair in the decisive final quarter.
Guard Maurice Cheeks led the 76ers (18-18, now four games ahead of Washington for second place in the Atlantic Division) with 20 points. Forward Charles Barkley, the all-star who entered the game as the NBA's third-leading scorer with 28.8 points per game, managed 19. The collective effort by his team was one reason why, seconds before the game ended, Unseld walked the length of the visiting bench, shaking hands with each of his players.
"The defense was what turned the game around for us," said Unseld. "Bogues played well, Johnson played well, John was getting down court. Terry did a great job, Manute blocked some shots -- everyone was playing well, that was the key."
Trailing, 74-73, entering the fourth quarter, Washington began its sprint to victory innocuously enough with a layup by Johnson. The points were matched 20 seconds later on a jumper by Philadelphia guard Gerald Henderson.
Over the next 2:09, the Bullets ran off 12 straight points, eight of them from Williams, to take an 87-76 lead with 8:08 to play.
At that point Barkley reentered the game after a short rest. Some of the fans at courtside pleaded for the powerful one to bring his team back. Barkley nodded his head and scored the next five points to make the score 87-81 with 7:02 left.
The Bullets contrived to keep their poise, though, never allowing the 76ers to get closer than five points. The scariest moment may have come with just under three minutes remaining. The Bullets led by 93-88 but were moments away from a 24-second clock violation. Just before the buzzer, Bogues banked in a hanging jumper past Barkley.
"We know we just have to win games," said Moses Malone. "We hadn't won on the road in a while. This was a good one to get."
Last year, the Bullets suffered through a pair of ignominious streaks during the first half of the season. The first was a season-opening seven-game losing streak on the road. The second was an 0-12 showing when the team played on the road following a game the previous night.
Tonight, the squad arrived at the Spectrum under the onus of another travel tale of woe: an 0-10 record away from home against teams with a record of .500 or better.
The Bullets also had lost both of the road games it had played since Unseld was named head coach on Jan. 3. In those contests, at Boston on Jan. 8 and at Chicago this past Monday, the team had played well most of the way. Tonight, the Bullets began the game as if another defeat was a foregone conclusion, but soon showed a new face.
The visitors missed five of their first six shots in falling behind, 16-4, in the opening six minutes. Even so, the 76ers kept them in the contest by making just 36 percent of their shots in taking a 23-18 lead.
Washington, which had committed nine turnovers in the opening quarter, made another four in the second. The most costly appeared to be a bad pass by Catledge with two seconds left in the half. Philadelphia took advantage of the miscue, Barkley connecting on a three-point field goal at the buzzer to stake the 76ers to a 52-42 lead.
However, save for his fourth-quarter spurt, that was the burly forward's biggest moment of the evening, as Catledge and Williams combined to stymie him consistently.
"I just wanted to slow him down some," said Williams. "We threw a lot of people at him. We were doubling him a lot. I think it altered his game a little bit."
Barkley didn't think the Bullets' efforts against him were particularly noteworthy.
"I just had a bad game, that's all. It happens that way sometimes," he said. "Now I just shake it off and go on."
Celtics 131, Suns 115:
In Boston, Larry Bird scored 23 points, Danny Ainge hit for 21 and the Celtics pulled away from Phoenix in the third quarter en route to their sixth straight victory, 16th in 18 games.
Ainge extended his NBA record to 21 consecutive games with three-point baskets. He made four in six attempts.
Warriors 103, Nets 101:
Steve Harris recovered his own blocked shot and swished a short jumper in the lane as the buzzer sounded, giving Golden State its first road victory in 18 tries this season.
The winning basket was ruled good by referee Jess Thompson despite protests from the Nets that the ball did not leave Harris' hand in time. His first try was blocked by Orlando Woolridge.
Pistons 120, Jazz 117:
Detroit's Adrian Dantley and Isiah Thomas scored 28 points apiece, 24 between them in the fourth quarter, in Salt Lake City. Karl Malone scored 39 for the Jazz, and Thurl Bailey 20, but Utah couldn't hold a lead that reached 91-84 with 11 minutes left.
The Pistons moved ahead at 98-97, and Rick Mahorn scored six of his eight points in the final five minutes. The game was slowed by 96 free throw attempts, Detroit netting 39 of 51 and Utah 35 of 45.
SuperSonics 108, Knicks 96:
Xavier McDaniel had career-highs of 41 points and 18 rebounds in leading Seattle to its 16th straight home victory.
Clippers 104, Pacers 94:
In Los Angeles, Mike Woodson scored 13 of his 22 points in the third quarter as Los Angeles staved off a late rally by Indiana.