LOS ANGELES, JAN. 16 -- It was just a basketball game, but the Washington Bullets still managed to overcome themselves, the day and the Los Angeles Clippers at the very last, winning by 101-99 at the Sports Arena.

Ledell Eackles' free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining provided the winning margin for the Bullets (16-19), who looked as if they would blow a lead they held almost all night, though they trailed 92-88 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

But Washington scored eight of the last 12 points. All of those came from the foul line in the final 1:51, after the Bullets hadn't shot a free throw the entire third quarter.

Bernard King led Washington with 32 points, adding nine rebounds, but made just 12 of 33 shots. The Clippers (13-25) didn't allow him to post up nearly as much as they did just a week ago, when he scored 45. Eackles had a strong game in a reserve role with 18 points.

"I've hit {foul shots} to tie it a couple of times {in the pros}, but not to win," said Eackles. "We were running one of our out-of-bounds plays for me or B. I got it on the post and had a smaller guard {Tom Garrick} on me, so I just turned around and shot the ball."

"If he has a shot, he takes it," King said. "If not, I continue around the baseline and I post up and it's a two-man game. He got the ball deep enough in the lane that he was able to go up and try to get the shot he wanted and make contact and he got fouled."

Garrick got a lot of ball when he tried to block Eackles' shot, but he hit him in the head too, and official Ed Middleton made the call. Eackles sank both and Washington had the lead.

On the Clippers' last play, they tried a lob to Ken Norman. But Tom Hammonds saw the pass all the way and got a hand on the ball. Norman caught up with it as he was falling out of bounds, but couldn't find an open man before time expired.

Hammonds was in the game because Harvey Grant sat out most of the second half with shin splints, which have bothered him all season. He responded with six points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Charles Jones also had 12 rebounds for Washington, which finished with a commanding 56-43 advantage on the backboards.

"I knew I had to come in and do something," Hammonds said. "I think I did pretty well rebounding and playing some good defense. The main thing is we won."

But it shouldn't have been as close as it was. The Bullets looked incapable of handling a half-court trap the Clippers sprang on them at various times in the second quarter and second half. The trap stopped Washington's pattern offense cold, and even though Los Angeles was little better at its end, the Clippers got closer.

Despite shooting 35 percent in the third quarter, they finally tied it at 84 with 7:10 left in the game, then scored eight of the next 12 to take the four-point lead on Charles Smith's jumper.

"We did not put forth enough effort to win this game," Clippers Coach Mike Schuler said. "You cannot come out with the attitude we approached this game with and expect to win. . . . We got back into the game, got a little lead, but we didn't win."

"We weren't getting anybody in the middle," said Bullets guard Darrell Walker (15 points, nine rebounds), "and we became passive. And the next thing you know, they were back in the game and the referees were calling everything for them and they got the lead."

But the Bullets -- and Walker -- got the game's biggest call. Pervis Ellison (10 points, seven rebounds) had tied the score at 97 with 54 seconds left on a free throw, and then stripped Winston Garland of the ball at the other end with 28 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, the Bullets tried to post up King. But, as before, that option was taken from him and he passed to Eackles, who drove and passed to Walker on the left baseline. Garrick, who had been all over everyone the whole night, bumped Walker.

With 13 seconds remaining, Walker made both foul shots to give the Bullets a 99-97 lead.

"If Darrell doesn't make those, we probably lose the game," King said.

Garrick came right back down and tied it with eight seconds left on a runner in the lane. But the Bullets had the final shot of the game, and they made something happen.