The Washington Bullets are playing better but the results are the same. Again last night they went late into the fourth quarter against a bigger, deeper club, the Milwaukee Bucks. But the Bucks went to their talented guard trio down the stretch and pulled out a 108-100 victory before 9,829 at Capital Centre.

Washington (1-3) had opportunities to win, just as it did against New York Thursday. But the Bullets were silent tonight in a key 90-second stretch that won the game for the Bucks (4-1). Then Ricky Pierce scored seven of his team-high 25 points, as Milwaukee went on a late 9-0 run.

Jay Humphries scored 24 points for the Bucks, who shot exceptionally well all night (.506), blistering in the first half (.610). Alvin Robertson scored 24 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 5 steals and 5 assists, making the point that maybe he should be one of the top seven paid off guards in the league.

Bernard King had his third straight 30-plus scoring night, hitting 14 of 26 shots and scoring 34 points. He is averaging 31.5 points for Washington, having taken 58 more field goal attempts (105) than the nearest teammate, Harvey Grant. If King doesn't do this, the Bullets aren't going to be in a position to win.

Problem is, everyone else in the league knows this too. In the fourth quarter, the Bucks sent 7-foot Jack Sikma (seven points, seven rebounds) to double-team King whenever he tried to post up Robertson or Jeff Grayer. King was forced to pass the ball, and no one else could hit the big shots.

"We didn't want Bernard to beat us," Pierce said. "He can kill you. You have to double-team him. We double-teamed at times and he'd still score. We wanted to deny the ball to him down the stretch, keep two guys on him. As soon as he got the ball on the post we wanted to get the ball out of his hands."

"We quit moving sometimes," said Bullets guard Darrell Walker (21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists). "We kind of stood around, and {Coach} Wes {Unseld} doesn't really want to call a lot of set plays, let teams set their defense up. We slowed down a little bit and we'd get the ball to B {King}. Instead of letting B go one on one, these days teams are starting to send two and three people at him."

The Bullets scrapped back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit, behind the scoring of Grant (eight of his 12 points) and the defense of Charles Jones (all three of his blocked shots). Walker added seven points, and the Bullets trailed by 86-83 after three.

Milwaukee took a five-point lead with 5:44 left, but free throws from A. J. English (14 points) and King made it a one-point game. Pierce then scored the first two of his nine straight for the Bucks, but King scored in transition at 3:18 to make it 94-93.

Pierce made two free throws for a three-point Milwaukee edge. Pervis Ellison (seven points, six rebounds) was called for an offensive foul at the other end, and Pierce freed himself for a right-side jumper with 2:44 remaining. King missed -- Sikma jumping out at him again -- and it started a fastbreak that Pierce converted into a three-point play with 2:19 left, giving the Bucks a 101-93 lead.

"The big story to the game is the veteran experience the last six minutes," Milwaukee Coach Del Harris said.

"We were able to capitalize with the ball nearly every time offensively, either to get a nice look at a shot or a free throw. And the guys knocked down their free throws."