DENVER -- There was nothing pretty about this victory. There were missed shots, missed dunks, turnovers and some tired bodies, but when you're young and struggling to put two back-to-back, you'll take it.
That's what the Denver Nuggets did last night, with a 128-125 victory over the Washington Bullets. It was the first time the Nuggets have won two straight this season.
The game featured a matchup of two of the league's hottest scorers, Washington's Bernard King (29.2) and Denver's Orlando Woolridge (29.9).
King led all scorers with 34 points, and Woolridge had 33. The Bullets' A.J. English added a career-high 30.
"We were trying to go after Bernard, and then English comes in and gets 30," the Nuggets' Blair Rasmussen said. "He was a totally unexpected key for them, I think. But it's just something you have to deal with. Letting up on King to guard English would be stupid."
Entering the game, the Bullets averaged 97.9 points and gave up an average of 107.4. But the Nuggets averaged 129 and had a worst game of 105, Nov. 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
With 1 minute, 1 second left in the game, Washington's Haywoode Workman had an open lane to the basket but traveled.
The Nuggets' Walter Davis later was fouled and hit both free throws to put Denver ahead, 126-123.
Washington's Darrell Walker scored on a layup to make it 126-125, but Rasmussen's 22-foot jumper with four seconds left put the game away.
Washington coach Wes Unseld said the pace of the game wasn't as much of a factor for the Bullets as for other teams, because of their up-tempo style.
"I'm not so much worried about the Nuggets' pace. We play up-tempo ourselves. That didn't bother me. My concern is getting something off the bench which we haven't been doing.
"When you have guys with less than two years' experience, you don't worry about the other team. You don't have that luxury," he added. "If I was in Detroit, things might be different."
The Nuggets' fast-paced offense paid off at the outset of the third period, when Washington's sluggishness gave the Nuggets couple of quick baskets for a 83-75 lead. The Bullets closed to 85-81 by the middle of the third quarter and tried to slow the pace by bringing the ball up court more slowly.
Trailing, 87-81, with just more than five minutes left in the third period, the Bullets looked revitalized. But just when they appeared ready to make a run, they were quieted by Chris Jackson's 20-footer that extended Denver's lead to 89-81.
Jackson has been getting limited playing time this season -- averaging 19.4 minutes -- but has been dangerous around the perimeter.
The Bullets pounded the lane near the end of the third period and reduced the Nuggets' lead to 96-95 with three minutes left in the period.
Washington outscored Denver, 12-4, in the last three minutes to take the lead, 105-100.
At the beginning of the season, Denver's run-and-gun offense was a shock on everyone's system, especially the Nuggets, who were prodded to run even faster.
By last night, however, the Nuggets were more coherent.