LANDOVER -- The winless Sacramento Kings were in town, and Bernard King scored a season-high 45 points. Those factors should have meant a victory for the Washington Bullets last night, but they didn't.
King scored more than half the Bullets' points, but again the 34-year-old wonder got little help, as the Bullets (2-7) allowed the Kings (1-7) to notch their first win of the season, 87-82, before 6,105 at the Capital Centre.
The Bullets fought back from a 53-38 halftime deficit after a second quarter in which they scored nine points, their lowest in a period since the franchise moved from Baltimore in 1973. King led the Bullets with 16 points in the third period, as they rallied to tie the game at 68.
The veteran forward gave the Bullets an 80-77 lead on a free throw with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game, but after his field goal tied the game at 82 with 47.6 seconds left, the Bullets didn't score again.
Rookie guard A.J. English missed two shots down the stretch after the Kings concentrated their defensive effort on King.
With the Bullets ahead, 80-77, English missed a jumper from the foul line. After the Bullets fell behind, 85-82, on Duane Causwell's three-point play with 38 seconds left, English missed from the same spot.
"It's a frustrating experience for all of us not to come away with a victory," said King, who hit 18 of 30 field-goal attempts but made just nine of 16 free-throw tries. Overall, the Bullets made just 12 of 23.
"Obviously, if I had made my free throws, maybe we could have won this game," he said.
But King did his part and more last night, as he has all season. Harvey Grant had 14 points and Darrell Walker 10, but starters Charles Jones and Larry Robinson and the rest of the bench combined for just 13 points.
"We've got get him [King] some help," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "We have to demand some things [of our team]. All I'm asking is give me what you've got. Just give me what we pay you for. I'm not asking guys who don't shoot to shoot, and I'm not asking guys who are not scorers to score."
Walker and Grant questioned the Bullets' intensity against the Kings.
"It was a winnable game for them if we didn't come out with the right intensity, and we didn't and they did," said Walker.
Grant said: "This is very hard to swallow. It's a game we could have won and should have won. We're all professionals and we get paid large amounts of money to play, and the intensity should be there every night."
It certainly was not there in the second period, when the Bullets allowed the Kings to use a 19-1 run to start the quarter after Washington held a 29-25 lead at the end of one period. During that run, the Bullets missed five shots and committed five turnovers.
The Bullets built three-point leads twice in the final six minutes of the game, the last on the King free throw with 3:18 left.
The Bullets had two chances to increase the lead, but English missed a jumper and Jones was called for an offensive foul.
Wayman Tisdale (23 points, eight rebounds) completed a three-point play with 1:38 left to tie the game at 80, and Carr put the Kings ahead, 82-80, with two free throws with 1:13 left. A jumper by King made it 82-82.
Then Causwell got open under the basket for a layup and was fouled by Jones with 38 seconds left. Causwell hit the free throw to make it 85-82.
After a timeout, English missed a jumper from the foul line, and King's short baseline jumper also was off the mark, and the Kings controlled the rebound. Two free throws by Travis Mays with with 16.2 seconds left accounted for the final margin.
"I'm so frustrated tonight I can't even talk," said Walker. "We need somebody to step up."
In a hurry.