MILWAUKEE -- The game was there for the Washington Bullets to have. The Milwaukee Bucks' 19-game home-court winning streak over two seasons was in jeopardy.
The shot that could have given the Bullets the lead, and perhaps the victory, could not have been designed any better. But instead of making a winning basket, Harvey Grant rushed an open, 14-foot jumper that fell short.
The Bucks rebounded, made a couple of free throws and had a 99-96 victory at the Bradley Center here last night to remain perfect at home and run their overall winning streak to eight games, while the Bullets' modest three-game streak came to a halt.
"I thought it was going in," said Grant, who contributed 24 points and six rebounds. "I should have took my time. I rushed it a little. I guess you win some and you lose some."
Grant had given the Bullets a 96-95 lead with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining by converting a three-point play. Washington had a chance to increase its lead, but Darrell Walker missed shot, and seconds later, after Mark Alarie came up with a steal, Haywoode Workman had a layup attempt blocked by Jay Humphries.
Humphries slapped the ball to Alvin Robertson, who got the ball out to Frank Brickowski, who was fouled by Grant with 15.8 seconds left. Brickowski made both free throws, giving the Bucks had a 97-96 lead.
After a timeout, Ledell Eackles wound up with the ball near the top of the key. He drove to the right side, and then passed to Grant, who was suddenly wide-open just inside the free-throw line. He set and fired, but the shot grazed the front of the rim and wound up in the hands of Jack Sikma, who was fouled with 4.8 seconds left.
After he made two free throws, the Bullets had a chance to tie, but Pervis Ellison's three-point attempt from the top missed badly and the Bucks' had a franchise record for most home victories to start the season with 18.
All the Bullets had was a tough loss.
"It was an evenly played game," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld, whose team's record dropped to 13-18. "We had our shot at winning it."
Bernard King, who fouled out of the game on a double foul with 1:44 left, led Washington with 30 points. Ricky Pierce had 22 points for the Bucks, who lead the Central Division with a 25-8 record. Brickowski added 19, and Sikma contributed 14.
"We're very happy with 18 in a row, it's much better than 17-1," said Bucks coach Del Harris. "Washington outplayed us tonight. We were very fortunate to get a win."
The Bullets pushed the Bucks the entire first half before Milwaukee used an 8-4 run in the final three minutes to take a 57-54 lead.
Pierce hit four consecutive free throws to give the Bucks a 53-50 lead and Robertson scored on a layup to push the lead to five.
King ended the brief run with a short baseline jumper, but Jay Humphries countered on the other end before Walker ended the scoring in the half with a 15-footer with 47 seconds left.
The Bullets ignored all the talk of the Bucks' home-court edge in the first period, making 15 of 19 shots to take a 32-30 lead. The Bucks weren't exactly frigid, making 14 of 22, many coming on uncontested layups.
King made six of seven shots in the first 12 minutes on his way to a 13-point effort. Harvey Grant helped out with 11 points and two steals.
The Bullets cooled off slightly in the second period but still made nine of 16 and finished the half making 24 of 35 (68.6 percent). The Bucks made 24 of 44 field-goal attempts for the half (54.5 percent) and also forced the Bullets into 14 turnovers.
The Bullets stayed close throughout the third period although they never were able to keep the lead. They pulled to 77-75 on a basket by King, but then allowed the Bucks to score the last six points of the quarter, including a rebound basket by Robertson with 2.7 seconds left to take an 85-77 lead, their biggest of the night to that point.