NEW YORK -- If Patrick Ewing is the least bit serious about leaving New York for Washington next year, his asking price just went up.
The Knicks superstar feasted on the undersized Bullets last night, scoring 32 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking seven shots to lead the Knicks to a surprisingly-tough 114-103 victory before a Madison Square Garden crowd of 11,877.
Bullets coach Wes Unseld used Charles Jones, Pervis Ellison and rookie Greg Foster against Ewing, but the 7-foot superstar ++ kept powering his way to the hoop for layups or slam dunks.
But the Bullets, mainly on the strength of Bernard King's 30 points, stayed in contention until the closing minutes. A King layup made it 100-97, but Knicks forward Kiki Vandeweghe answered with a three-point shot and a pair of free throws for an eight-point spread.
Washington crept back to 106-102 on Jones' three-point play, but Vandeweghe converted two more foul shots, and the Bullets (1-2) had run out of rallies. They were outscored, 8-1, in the last pTC two minutes.
It was the first home victory for the Knicks, who boosted their record to 2-2.
The Knicks, who had lost their first two home games against Boston and Dallas, were already being second-guessed by courtside critics. Last season, they did not suffer their second defeat at the Garden until Feb. 25.
In all three of their games, including an overtime victory in Charlotte, N.C.,the Knicks started fast and finished slow.
"The thing with us now is if we can handle all the outside negativism that comes with being 1-2," Knicks coach Stu Jackson said before tip-off.
"We have to get aggressive mentally and sustain it. If we were playing lousy for a whole game, I'd be concerned, but that hasn't been the case. We're beating ourselves in the fourth quarter because our post and perimeter defense has been poor."
Despite the shaky start, Jackson believes his team has improved, if only because veteran point guard Maurice Cheeks is available at the start of the season. But the Knicks lost a consistent scorer when Johnny Newman, a free agent, signed with the Charlotte Hornets.
Otherwise it was a familiar cast that started last night against the Bullets. A revitalized Mark Jackson shared the backcourt with Gerald Wilkins, with Vandeweghe and Charles Oakley flanking Ewing, who averaged 30.3 points and 14 rebounds in his first three outings.
Bullets coach Wes Unseld changed his starting unit after Saturday's upset of Chicago. Darrell Walker reclaimed his job as point guard, replacing free-agent Haywoode Workman.
The Bullets shot out to a 9-3 lead by consistently beating the Knicks down the floor for layups. Walker, who was slowed in training camp by heel problems, displayed his old quickness in driving the lane for two baskets.
Vandeweghe sparked a Knicks rally to slice the deficit to 13-11. Ellison then scored his first field goal as a Bullet, dunking home a pass by King. Two minutes later, he converted a lob pass by King for another slam and a 23-18 edge.
Oakley then took over, scoring three straight hoops to give New York its first lead, 24-23. This time, it was the Bullets who were guilty of not getting back on defense.
But Ellison kept working himself free for easy shots. He hit three straight to reclaim the lead, 31-29. Mark Alarie's buzzer-beating jumper left Washington with a 33-31 edge after one quarter. New York made 13 of 21 shots for 62 percent. The Bullets were 15-31 for 48 percent.
Ellison continued his impressive play in the second quarter, beating Oakley on a baseline drive for another dunk. The lead then changed hands three times before A.J. English made consecutive hoops to push the Bullets ahead, 45-43. Fellow rookie Workman added two baskets to boost the lead to 49-44.
Ewing then got his first field goal on an offensive rebound with five minutes left in the half. He then overpowered Greg Foster for five more baskets to push the Knicks back on top, 60-57. King's three-point play tied it again. The Bullets ended the half clinging to a 64-63 lead.