LANDOVER -- Early in the second quarter last night, a frustrated Pervis Ellison picked up his third personal foul while guarding Atlanta Hawks center Moses Malone and was forced to the bench.
"I got suckered by an old pro," said the Washington Bullets TTC second-year forward. "Moses got me in a headlock. When I pushed to get loose, the whistle blew. Moses smiled and tapped me on the butt. I asked him to teach me that trick."
But Ellison showed the Hawks a few tricks of his own in the fourth quarter, when he scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds to rally the Bullets to a 104-99 victory before a Capital Centre crowd of 9,830.
It was the sixth straight win at home for the Bullets (18-21), and it ended a five-game winning streak by the Hawks (24-16).
After trailing by 14 at halftime, Atlanta used its strong offensive rebounding and an effective trapping defense to outscore the Bullets, 35-16, in the third quarter and take an 83-78 lead.
With 3 minutes, 37 seconds remaining, the Hawks still led, 99-92, but they would not score again. Ellison, 6 feet 10, proved an intimidating force on defense in crunch time and scored six points in the last two minutes.
He made his first critical play with the Bullets trailing 100-99, grabbing an offensive rebound and feeding Harvey Grant for a jump shot that gave Washington the lead.
On the Hawks' next possession, he made John Battle double pump on a jumper in the lane and rejected the shot. Ledell Eackles then missed for the Bullets, but Ellison converted the rebound to make it 102-99.
With 40 seconds left, Doc Rivers tried to tie the score with a three- point shot, but it bounced over the backboard. The Hawks then chose to foul Ellison, who was shooting only 56 percent from the line. But the former Louisville star, who was acquired from the Sacramento Kings in a three-team off-season trade for Jeff Malone, made the two insurance free throws.
Ellison, who finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes, got strong support from point guard Darrell Walker -- who posted his second straight triple-double with 12 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds -- Bernard King (25 points) and Eackles (17 points).
Dominique Wilkins led the Hawks with 27 points, but the acrobatic forward was held scoreless for the last nine minutes under tight guarding by Grant.
The night's big story, however, was the aggressive play of Ellison, who has been a major contributor to the Bullets' surge the past month.
Asked what has caused Ellison's dramatic turnabout, assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik said jokingly, "Wes [Coach Unseld] threatened to kill him if he didn't start asserting himself. I think he got the message."
NOTES: General manager John Nash announced yesterday that medical exams revealed John Williams rehabilitated right knee is 100 percent sound, but the Bullets' fifth-year forward still must lose five pounds to get to the prescribed weight of 260 before being reactivated. The new target date is in mid-February after the All-Star Game. It will provide Williams with more time to participate in full-scale scrimmages and get into playing condition. "Basically, we're encouraged," said Nash. "John is very close to playing again."