DENVER, DEC. 11 -- The pace was there, the shots were there. The game was there. But the Washington Bullets beat themselves as much as the Denver Nuggets down the stretch, and dropped a taut 128-125 game before 8,291 at McNichols Arena to end their five-game western road trip.

Washington (6-14) ran with the Nuggets all night, and got superlative performances from Bernard King (game-high 34 points, plus 7 rebounds, 8 assists) and rookie guard A.J. English, who had a career-high 30 points with seven rebounds off the bench.

Harvey Grant cam back from a sluggish start to score 19 points and grab six rebounds. Haywoode Workman was seven of 10 from the field for 15 points, and Darrell Walker had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

But Washington turned it over after leading, 121-120, with 2:43 left. First, King was stripped of the ball by Orlando Woolridge, which led to a go-ahead jumper by ex-Bullet Michael Adams (22 points, 13 assists) at 1:35. Then, with Denver still up by one, Walker rebounded a Woolridge miss. He and Workman had a two-on-one, but Walker threw the pass a split second early and Workman wound up traveling with a minute remaining.

"We had opportunities to go ahead," King said. "I had a turnover. Orlando came up from behind and stripped it from behind, which I didn't expect. And we had a breakaway situation we weren't able to complete. And that was the difference there."

Then, a defensive lapse on Denver's final possession allowed a wide-open jumper by Blair Rasmussen with 4.5 seconds left. This is about all the 7-foot Rasmussen can do offensively.

But the Bullets jumped out on Woolridge (team-high 33 points) as he drove the lane, and the league's leading scorer dished off to Rasmussen on the left baseline. The basket made it a three-point game instead of one, and Walker's desperation three-point try fell well short.

"We had good defense," Coach Wes Unseld said of that Nuggets' possession. "But we made another defensive mistake. It was the same one we made, for some reason, too many times against Rasmussen. C.J. {Charles Jones} thought he had to help. But that's the only thing I could fault them for."

"C.J. did have to help," Walker said. "I saw Orlando crossing over and coming down the lane. And C.J. stepped over."

Said Rasmussen: "Actually, Orlando on the previous times down had made some nice drives to the hoop, so Michael told him to look at me. He did and I hit it. It's nice to hit that clutch jumper down the stretch."

As a result the Bullets dropped their first close game of the season. They had won all three of their games this year that were decided by four points or less, and were five of six in games decided by six or less.

English had his third strong outing on the road trip. He was 13 of 20 from the floor in 23 minutes, providing much-needed offense in reserve. As a result, Ledell Eackles did not play.

"The minutes were good for me," English said. "I just tried to go out and play, get in the flow of the game."

Frequent first-half substitutions kept the Bullets fresh against the frenetic Denver pace. But as a whole the reserves didn't play well, though English and Tom Hammonds had their moments.

An 18-7 run gave the Bullets a 105-100 lead after three quarters. But the reserves faltered at the start of the fourth, turning over the ball four times in six possessions. Denver scored nine straight to take a 109-105 lead with nine minutes remaining.

"I've got to set something out of the other people," Unseld said. "Pervis {Ellison} is picking up fouls. I thought Tommy did some good things though."

English kept Washington close with six straight points, and the Bullets pulled even at 120 on a free throw by Jones with 3:35 remaining. A minute later, Grant made one of two from the line to put Washington ahead.

Then came the two turnovers. Washington was still within 126-125 on a Walker layin with 29 seconds left, and the Bullets decided to play Denver straight up. Rasmussen burned them, and after two timeouts, Walker popped out at the top of the key.

He's made six three-pointers in 87 career attempts. Number seven didn't come tonight.

"I was open, I had to take the shot," he said. "It's no secret that's out of my range. But I didn't have time."