MILWAUKEE, JAN. 8 -- Darrell Walker woke up this morning and just knew the Washington Bullets were going to beat the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, at the end of the evening, Harvey Grant just knew his foul-line jumper wasn't going to go in, and the Bullets dropped a well-played 99-96 decision at Bradley Center.

When Grant's jumper with six seconds left, and the Bullets down 97-96, fell well short and Jack Sikma rebounded, the Bucks (25-8) had the inside track to their 18th straight home victory, setting a franchise record for consecutive home successes. And the Bullets (13-18) had their three-game winning streak broken.

"All day, I just kind of felt we were going to win," Walker said, "that we had a chance to come in here and play well for once. I didn't say it to anybody, but I really felt it. And we played like it. We got a good shot. We just missed it."

After Sikma made the free throws with 4.8 seconds left, Pervis Ellison's desperation three-pointer fell short. Those kinds of shots fall once in a blue moon. It was Grant's game to win, and he knew it.

"I felt myself shake back a little bit" on the shot, Grant (24 points) said. "If I had just taken my time . . . I know I rushed it. When I shot it, I felt I rushed it just a little bit."

Grant had to take the shot because Bernard King (game-high 30 points) fouled out with 1:44 left and Washington down two. He was called for a double foul after jousting for position with Milwaukee's Alvin Robertson. A tough way to go out. Still, the Bullets had their chances.

Washington stayed right with the Central Division leaders. Neither team got a double-digit lead or led by more than four the last nine-plus minutes. Playoff-type basketball.

"Washington outplayed us tonight," Bucks Coach Del Harris said. "We were very fortunate to get the win. We got a great break when Bernard King fouled out in the fourth quarter. . . . The big factor was the free throw situation." The Bucks made 21 of 23; the Bullets just 14 of 21.

Washington trailed 83-75 after three quarters, having allowed six points in the last minute. But an 8-2 run to start the fourth brought the Bullets within 85-83 with 8:36 left. And the game stayed that tight down the stretch.

The Bullets got within 95-93 with less than three minutes remaining on a King jumper. Both teams stopped the other on successive possessions, and Washington had a chance to tie with less than two minutes to go.

But just before the Bullets could call time, referee Jess Kersey whistled King and Robertson. And King had to sit.

After that foul, Grant's three-point play at 1:20 gave the Bullets a 96-95 lead. And they got the ball back after Ricky Pierce (team-high 22 points) was called for an offensive foul with 1:04 remaining.

But Washington missed two chances to stretch the margin. Walker missed a wild bank shot, and Robertson came up with the rebound. Grant stole his outlet pass, and the Bullets had another shot. But Jay Humphries stripped the ball from Haywoode Workman, who was driving to the basket, and the Bucks came out running with 20 seconds remaining.

Humphries fed Frank Brickowski, who was fouled going to the basket at 15.8 seconds. He made both free throws and Milwaukee led, 97-96.

The Bullets put Workman and Ledell Eackles in the backcourt. Eackles brought the ball in, and isolated on the left side. When he started to drive, the Bucks collapsed their defense.

Exactly what Washington wanted.

"It was the look," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "It worked. Ledell had the first option, to create something and draw some attention, and then kick to either Harvey or Mark {Alarie} in the corner. We got the shot we wanted."

Meaning Grant all alone, a step inside the foul line. He's been hitting that shot all season.

"You can't get one better," Walker said.

"I thought it was going in," Workman said.

"I was giving him the voodoo from the bench," said Milwaukee forward Danny Schayes.

But it fell well short of the basket. Sikma boxed out and the Bucks had won their eighth in a row overall and eighth straight here over the Bullets since January 1987.

"They wanted to keep their streak going," said Grant, who knew better than anybody, "and we wanted to come in here and break it. We played hard as we could; they played as hard and they could. It came down to the last shot. And you know . . . "