SAN ANTONIO, FEB. 12 -- It was just one play late in a game that already had gotten away from the Washington Bullets, well on their way to a 102-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The heavyset player came across midcourt. He saw a teammate. He threw a 40-foot pass right on the teammate's hands for an alley-oop dunk.

John Williams was back. Kind of.

Williams played NBA basketball ball for the first time in 14 months, and he showed all the telltale signs of a player whose game has been in dry dock. He scored just three points in 14 minutes, making just one shot out of six. But that wasn't the point. Everyone expected something like that.

Said Bullets Coach Wes Unseld: "He made a pass that we haven't had anybody make all year. Or all last year. But it's going to be slow. You can't expect a guy who hasn't played at this level for a year . . . to step right back in and be effective. It's not going to happen."

"I just had to get out there and try," Williams said. "We've got a lot more games. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I think it'll come around. It'll get there. It felt good to get that first game under my belt."

When you hold the Spurs, averaging 109 points per game, seven less than that total, and hold them to 44 percent shooting, you should have a chance to win. But Washington (21-28), save for a brief spurt at the end of the third quarter, never was in this one.

Guard Ledell Eackles made his first start of the season, played 39 minutes and scored 24 points. But many of those came after the issue had been decided. The Bullets faltered because Bernard King and Harvey Grant combined for 14 of 39 shooting. King had 22 points and nine rebounds; Grant 13 and nine.

Willie Anderson had 22 points to lead San Antonio (33-12). David Robinson, playing in unfamiliar territory at power forward, had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Dwayne Schintzius had 13 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot at center.

Eackles was 11 of 22 from the field. His new backcourt partner, A.J. English, had 12 points but six turnovers in 41 minutes.

"We didn't win, so it doesn't matter," Eackles said of his performance. "We threw the ball away a lot. A.J.'s {position is} a two {guard}, and right now he has to run the one {guard, also called point guard}. We've got to get adjusted to each other."

With foul trouble for Grant and King, and the Spurs getting their running game uncorked, it was little wonder San Antonio led 65-48 at halftime and kept that spread much of the third quarter.

With forward Terry Cummings hurt, the Spurs are going with a twin-towers look. They're not flowing offensively like they usually do.

"I like the {center} a lot more than I like {power forward}," Robinson said. "But if that's what we have to do to win, then I'll have to make that adjustment."

Actually, the Bullets' best run came with Grant and King off the court. Washington went to a halfcourt trap, with Williams, Mark Alarie and others on the court, and cut a 79-62 deficit to 83-72 to start the final period.

But Washington scored just four points in its first six-plus minutes, Pervis Ellison picked up three fouls in 24 seconds and San Antonio pulled away, behind Paul Pressey (15 points) and Sidney Green (13 points, 13 rebounds).

By the time Robinson thundered in for a fast-break dunk with 6:51 left, the Spurs were up 94-76.

"The guys coming off the bench gave us a chance to win the game," Grant said. "I didn't shoot the ball well. . . . I think it was coming back from the all-star break. I don't want to make excuses but I felt a little sluggish. I'm sure some of the other guys felt that way too."

Maybe they did, but tonight was just part of an extended period, with guards Darrell Walker and Haywoode Workman both out five games now, in which the Bullets haven't been able to score.

It's easy to blame English. But he's playing with his second backcourt partner in 10 days, and still trying to figure out how to get the ball where King and Grant want it.

"We couldn't get into any type of rhythm," the rookie said. "We're playing with a lot of different faces. It takes some adjusting. . . . experience."