PHOENIX, JAN. 15 -- They could have played this game about 78 times and the Washington Bullets couldn't have beaten the Phoenix Suns tonight. The Suns all but ran the easterners off the floor of Veterans' Memorial Coliseum in the first half and coasted to a 127-97 victory.

Washington (15-19) wanted to stop Phoenix's transition game, but never succeeded. The Suns (24-11) won their fifth straight and 16th in 20 by doing whatever they wanted offensively in the first three quarters.

Xavier McDaniel led the attack with 24 points, shooting 12 of 12 from the floor, with seven rebounds. Tom Chambers had 23 points and eight rebounds, Kevin Johnson 20 points and 10 assists.

Bernard King's 26 points paced the Bullets, who came in having won seven of their last 10 games. Harvey Grant scored 17 and Ledell Eackles was solid off the bench with 18 points. But that was it for Washington, which shot only seven of 26 from the field in the third quarter after trailing 67-52 at halftime.

"We just didn't respond," Coach Wes Unseld said. "They took it to us hard and kept going at us and we didn't respond. We were out of it before we even started."

"We didn't have any intensity and it showed on the scoreboard," said Grant, who was just seven of 16 from the floor after shooting 54 percent the last 11 games.

McDaniel, last seen by the Bullets in a Seattle uniform, has hit his last 20 shots from the floor in this building, spanning six quarters. Tonight he did everything, stepping outside for the perimeter jumper or posting quickly across the lane.

"Being here with Kevin and Tom and guys who can put the ball on the floor, it makes it a lot easier for me," he said. "I'm not that much bigger than Bernard but I think I'm a more physical player. I think I'm able to change my game . . . Some nights I have to play a finesse game, some nights I have to play a power game."

Occasionally teams run into clubs with no apparent weaknesses, and that's the way the first quarter developed for the Bullets. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound McDaniel got out on King and took away his drives to the basket. Washington turned over the ball three times in the first two minutes.

The result was a 10-2 Phoenix lead that grew and grew until, on a breakaway dunk, McDaniel made it 35-15 before King and Haywoode Workman drew the Bullets within 35-19 at the quarter.

Eackles got Washington back into the fringe of the game to start the second period. He came out firing and had seven points the first two minutes. Pervis Ellison tipped in a Workman miss, and rolled for an alley-oop dunk at 8:35, making it 39-30.

Phoenix scored six of the next eight points, but Washington stayed within 10 on a turnaround by King and it was still just 50-40 after King spun in the lane for a basket. And the Suns had done the Bullets a favor by removing Johnson, who had 16 points and seven assists at the time, for the rest of the half.

But the Suns went on an 8-2 run, with two baskets each by Dan Majerle and McDaniel. Washington responded with nine of the next 13 points. Eackles had seven of them, and his leaner in the lane brought it to 62-51. But McDaniel hit a fadeaway. After King made one of two from the line, the Bullets had a chance to close within 10 when Walker picked rookie guard Negele Knight from behind and Eackles came up with the ball.

But his pass was off line, and Knight beat Walker to the ball. The Suns turned it around quickly, and Majerle passed to Chambers on the left wing. Chambers scored a three-pointer: 67-52 at the half.

One of two things then had to happen. The Bullets had to come out on fire to begin the third, or the Suns would swamp them quickly. Washington answered that question by missing 10 of its first 11 shots.

Soon it was 90-64, and 100-68, and as the quarter wound down Jeff Hornacek came up with a steal and breakaway, but blew the dunk. No matter. Phoenix got the rebound, and Hornacek hit a three-point bomb from the corner, making it 103-70. And McDaniel sat out the fourth.

"The defense wasn't there tonight," King said. "Every time we went to double-team they got a dunk right down the lane. Or when K.J. split the defense he got right into the middle of the lane to do what he wanted. It wasn't there tonight. {Defense is} what's carried us so far and hopefully we'll be able to pick it up" against the Clippers Wednesday.