LANDOVER -- Rookie guard A.J. English, a forgotten man the past two weeks, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including four in the last two minutes to trigger the Washington Bullets to a 105-101 victory over the Miami Heat at the Capital Centre last night.
After Harvey Grant's jumper tied the game at 98, English, a second-round draft pick from Virginia Union, converted a long pass from Pervis Ellison into a floating layup. Following a Miami miss, English was fouled and converted both free throws for a four-point cushion and the Heat (11-32) never recovered.
Bernard King, named yesterday to the Eastern Division All-Star team, led the Bullets (19-24) with 26 points. Grant added 24 points, and Darrell Walker had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Glen Rice and Grant Long each scored 20 for Miami.
Both teams were trying to end losing streaks. Washington had dropped three straight and Miami four.
Miami's future looked brighter after the return to action of center Rony Seikaly, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Seikaly had missed the 15 previous games with a sprained knee.
The Bullets, on the other hand, were awaiting the return of veteran forward John Williams, sidelined since Dec. 2, 1989 after injuring his right knee. Williams received clearance Monday to engage in his first full-scale scrimmages.
With his knee declared sound and his weight reduced to 260 pounds, he is expected to be re-activated following the All-Star break Feb. 10. The Bullets will then have to cut one of their current 12 players.
The Bullets relied mostly on the perimeter shooting of King and Grant in the first five minutes. The Heat used the slashing drives of Long and strong offensive rebounding to forge a 14-14 tie.
The visitors moved in front, 21-18 on Sherman Douglas' three-point play. Bullets coach Wes Unseld called a timeout to chastise his players on their soft interior defense.
Walker kept the Bullets in contention with four field goals in the first nine minutes, but Washington could not contain Long, who used his spin moves to score 10 quick points.
King scored four straight, the last two on a scoop shot in the lane, for a 30-27 lead. A rebounding hoop by Mark Alarie ended the first-quarter scoring with Washington ahead, 32-27. The Bullets shot 61 percent from the field (14-23) compared to 48 percent (13-27) for Miami.
Grant and Ellison stretched the advantage to 36-27 to start the second quarter, but the Heat countered with eight straight points while the Bullets missed five consecutive shots. Alarie made only one of his first six field-goal attempts.
After a timeout, the Bullets regrouped. Walker hit two free throws and Ellison and Grant followed with dunks for a 42-35 cushion.
But Miami scratched back, closing to 44-41, and forcing Unseld to return to his starters. With the Bullets leading 46-45, Washington guard Haywoode Workman took an accidental elbow in the face and was replaced by English.
Play turned extremely sloppy as each team committed several turnovers. Washington finished the first half with a 51-50 edge.
Miami got back in the game by shooting 67 percent in the second quarter while Washington slipped to 32 percent.
The Bullets finally got their fast break going at the start of the second half. King and Workman made layups for a 60-54 spread. Rice and Douglas led an 8-2 spurt to pull Miami into a 62-62 tie.
King and Miami forward Billy Thompson exchanged charging fouls, but Thompson picked up his fourth foul, forcing him to the bench. But the Heat reclaimed the lead, 70-68, on rookie Alec Kessler's short hook and a block by Alan Ogg led to a flying stuff by Rice.
Grant scored six points, but a layup by Kevin Edwards left Miami with a 78-76 lead after three quarters. At this point, the Bullets reserves were shooting 3-for-19 from the field.
Four points by Ellison pushed Washington back in front, 82-80. Miami answered with five in a row before English holed a baseline jumper.
But English could not stop fellow rookie Bimbo Coles, who made two layups to create a 93-87 Miami lead.
The Bullets closed to 95-94 on Ellison's rebounding basket followed by King's open jumper with 3:43 left.
Miami's lead fluctuated between one and three points, as Long kept the Heat ahead with his free-throw shooting. But Grant pulled the Bullets even at 98 with two minutes to play.