The Bullets had been getting left-handed compliments for winning the final three games of their West Coast road trip because the teams they had beaten were near the bottom of the NBA standings.

But last night, Washington knocked off a good, though tired, Indiana club, 111-102, behind 28 points (20 in the second half) and 14 rebounds from Moses Malone and 25 points from Jeff Malone. It was the Bullets' fourth straight victory and first over a team with a winning record since Jan. 20.

The Bullets are now tied with Philadelphia and the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 23-32 overall mark.

Washington also got a solid effort off the bench from guard Tyrone Bogues, who scored 12 points and handed out seven assists in 26 minutes. John Williams and Terry Catledge each added 16 points for the Bullets. Steve Stipanovich led the Pacers with 20 points.

It has been an especially good two days for Jeff Malone, who signed a three-year extension of his contract this week for what the Washington Times reported as $2.9 million, bonuses and some deferred money.

"I'm happy," Jeff Malone said, adding nothing revealing about the contract. "I'm very, very happy right now. I was out west when I heard them talk about trading me. There's nothing I could do about it. It's just the nature of the business."

The Bullets were in control throughout, extending a 58-51 halftime lead to 14 midway through the third quarter. And every time Indiana threatened to get back in the game, Washington had a response from one of its six players in double figures.

Coach Wes Unseld, who has seen the Bullets win 10 of their last 12 home games under him, said Washington's play tonight was merely an extension of its efforts on the eight-game road trip, although Washington returned with just a 4-4 mark.

"I don't feel like it's been a shift," Unseld said. "I still think that on that road trip, all but one game, I was satisfied that we played, that we came out and did what we were supposed to do. I thought we had a shot in L.A. {against the Lakers}, a shot in Dallas."

Washington jumped on the Pacers early, hitting 62 percent of its shots in the first quarter to take a 31-27 lead after one. Bogues had come in late in the quarter, and immediately picked Clinton Wheeler's pocket.

At the start of the second, Bogues hit a foul line jumper to give Washington a six-point edge. He then fed Catledge for a jumper and nailed a 14-footer off the break to give the Bullets an eight-point bulge at 37-29 with 10:09 left in the half.

Bogues then picked Scott Skiles clean in the back court, dribbled around and waited for Mark Alarie for a trailer slam. It put Washington up, 42-32, at 7:41.

Seconds later, when Bogues picked up his second foul, Unseld sent in guard Steve Colter. Bogues started to come out, having played his customary 10 minutes or so in the first half, when Unseld stopped him.

"Muggs! Where're you going?," Unseld asked, as Bogues stayed in.

"That's just a sign of a team playing well together," Bogues said of his spread-the-wealth performance. "Everybody's looking for one another and no one's being selfish. I think a team playing up to their type of performance is a better team all around."

Indiana closed to one late in the half on successive baskets by Ron Anderson, but Jeff Malone scored four straight and Moses Malone put in a Jeff Malone miss to stem the tide. Then, while Anderson scored four more, Williams hit two baskets before the half for the seven-point lead.

At the start of the second period, Moses Malone scored six of Washington's first eight points, including a long three-pointer as the 24-second clock ran out that gave Washington a 12-point edge. Indiana got within eight before Bogues drove the length of the court for a scoop layin, beating the buzzer.

The Pacers only got within nine in the final quarter, as Bogues continued to score and dish off effectively. But it was Williams who fed Catledge for the alley-oop slam with 3:33 left that gave the Bullets a 101-87 lead.

Williams said he was feeling more and more comfortable playing in Bernard King's small forward spot while King missed his fifth straight game with lower back problems. But Williams said he was more concerned about Catledge's feelings.

"I didn't really know how Terry was going to react," Williams said. "Now that I'm starting and getting a lot of minutes played, I'm getting a lot of confidence about playing some of these great athletes out there. I've just been trying to contribute and hold my own."

King was at the game in street clothes, but unavailable for comment.

So despite all the tribulations of this season, and despite playing without King, who will also miss Friday's game at Indiana, the Bullets are still in the hunt for a playoff berth. And Unseld doesn't care how he got there.

"Nothing wrong with beating a bad team," he said. "Everybody beats bad teams. They've beaten us enough."