The Washington Bullets have failed to beat even mediocre teams on nights when Bernard King has been brilliant, so it seems difficult to imagine them beating the Houston Rockets on an evening in which their often-wondrous leader shot five for 18 and rarely was a factor offensively.

But the Bullets compensated with a familiar yeoman-like effort by Darrell Walker and some unaccustomed balance. They had three players score 20 points or more for the first time this season, and they outlasted the Rockets, 106-93, before 8,924 last night at Capital Centre.

Walker led the way, collecting his second triple-double of the year with a season's-best 22 points, plus 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Forward Harvey Grant supplied 20 points and 13 rebounds, and A. J. English spearheaded a much-needed uprising of the Bullets' reserves with 21 points.

"It was a team effort," said Walker, who connected on 10 of 18 field-goal tries and led the third-quarter charge that allowed the Bullets to take control for good. "They've been few and far between this year, but this was one. And it was a good one."

It was an uphill battle for Washington, which improved to 7-14 by winning its fourth straight at home. The Rockets (12-10) led for most of the first half, but the Bullets scored the initial nine points of the third quarter to erase a four-point halftime deficit and continued to widen the gap during a stretch run that saw their starters unusually fresh.

King finished with 13 points, marking the first time this season that the Bullets won a game in which King wasn't their high scorer. "It was just a good all-around effort," Coach Wes Unseld said. "Everyone played well. . . . We accomplished what we set out to do, like the {defensive} double-teaming and rotation. It was a fairly thorough effort."

Akeem Olajuwon paced the Rockets with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Houston -- coming off Tuesday's win at Philadelphia that broke a 23-game, nearly 17-year losing streak there -- shot 44 percent from the field, and seemed spent in the latter stages when the Bullets were pulling away.

"We just weren't mentally ready to play," Houston Coach Don Chaney said. "You can't ride a high off one game into the next. {His players} looked at this game and figured they could just show up."

The Bullets actually were fortunate to be in contention at halftime after King suffered through a three-point first half in which he shot one for seven from the field. But Washington got a boost from its recently all-but-nonexistent bench, and trailed by just 53-49 at the break.

Reserves provided 28 points in the opening 24 minutes (and 41 for the game), that on the heels of a just-completed 1-4 western road trip in which they were usually ineffective. Last night, however, they were a spark, with the most significant contributions coming from guard English -- who had 12 first-half points -- and center Greg Foster.

"We had been hurting the team lately," English said. "We knew it was time to step up and start doing something."

Washington's reserves continued to sparkle in the third quarter, as the Bullets wrestled away the lead with some inspired play by Walker and Tom Hammonds. The 9-0 surge gave the Bullets a 58-53 lead, and Hammonds maintained it with a jumper and a tipin to make it 62-57.

The Bullets got a scare later in the quarter when King, driving the right side of the lane, slipped on a wet spot and came up clutching his left ankle. His stay on the bench was brief, and Walker had taken over the offense by then, anyway.