ATLANTA, DEC. 15 -- This one was as predictable as they come. The Atlanta Hawks were rested and at home, the Washington Bullets were neither. In the NBA way of life, those odds are virtually insurmountable for all but the elite teams.

The Bullets, as usual, scrapped and fought the inevitable until the end. They turned what seemed certain to be a blowout midway through the fourth quarter into a tight game down the stretch. But they faded in the final moments, and the Hawks prevailed, 125-113, before 10,830 tonight at The Omni for their sixth victory in their last seven games.

Washington, which fell to 2-12 on the road and 7-15 overall, got 29 points from Bernard King and managed to trim a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to 112-108 with 3:11 left.

But Hawks reserve guard John Battle, the onetime McKinley (D.C.) High athlete, capped a career-best 28-point performance by providing four free throws and a reverse layup within the next 1:18 while the Bullets were turning the ball over twice. That started an eight-point Atlanta run that fetched the Hawks a 120-108 margin and took the outcome out of doubt.

"This was a winnable game for us. We just didn't make the plays at the end and they did," Bullets guard Darrell Walker said. "They made a lot of contested shots. Doc {Glenn Rivers} made a lot of shots with me all over him in the first quarter, then John Battle came in and just took the game over."

Both teams shot a crisp 53 percent from the field, but Atlanta (10-11) made 34 of 38 free throws -- to Washington's 22 for 26 -- and committed just seven turnovers in this precise, usually slow-paced affair.

The Hawks scored easily inside and mostly got to the free throw line when they didn't, opening space for Rivers (19 points) on the perimeter and Battle to slice through the lane. They led by seven points at the half and seemingly took control in the third quarter when Battle and Dominique Wilkins briefly got Atlanta's running game in gear.

"It was a total team effort," said Wilkins, who had a quieter-than-usual 21 points. "We adapted to the pace, fast and slow, and we pretty much handled whatever they threw at us."

Harvey Grant scored 22 points for the Bullets, and Ledell Eackles provided a season-high 19 points (on six-of-nine field goal accuracy, including two for three from three-point range) in 18 effective minutes of relief. Bullets reserves again played a major role, but the boost they provided ultimately was not enough.

The Bullets had a rather slim margin for error. The Hawks, for all their flaws in chemistry, remain the type of big, athletic club with which they cannot match up. And Atlanta hadn't played since Thursday, while the Bullets were in their second game in as many nights and just four days removed from a western trip.

"We played in spurts," Walker said. "It wasn't the kind of consistent game we had {in Friday's 13-point home triumph over the Houston Rockets}. We can't win playing like this; that's just the way it is."

Inexplicably, though, the Hawks allowed the game to be played at a methodical pace throughout the early going, and the Bullets managed to stay close. King -- who was held in check Friday and said he still was feeling the effects of turning an ankle in the third quarter of that game -- began sluggishly but provided three consecutive Bullets baskets as Washington forged an 18-14 lead.

But Rivers heated up to provide 10 first-quarter points and Atlanta grabbed a 28-26 advantage by the end of the period.

The Hawks' cushion grew to six points early in the second quarter, and Bullets Coach Wes Unseld largely went to his reserves for the rest of the half.

They mostly held their own, although a late Atlanta run aided by a technical foul on Walker and capped by Wilkins's buzzer-beating followup slam of a Spud Webb miss provided the Hawks a 60-53 lead at the break.

The fatigue factor began to show in the third quarter, as Atlanta finally upped the tempo and the Bullets couldn't keep pace.

Wilkins and Battle each had eight points in the period, and the Hawks' advantage soon grew to 11. The Bullets narrowed the gap to three near the end of the third, but the Hawks regrouped and ran the bulge to 15 -- the final time on Tim McCormick's layup with 6:02 to play -- before the Bullets went to a half-court trapping defense and crafted one last push.

"It's just another game for us on the road," Unseld said. " . . . I'm not disappointed. I don't get disappointed with this group except when they don't try."