EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Even against the New Jerse Nets, the Washington Bullets could ill afford the effort they displayed last night.
The Bullets -- playing without Bernard King and Charles Jones -- scored just 17 points in the final period and lost, 110-86, to the Nets.
The victory was the career 800th for New Jersey coach Bill Fitch, who is fourth on the all-time list behind Red Auerbach, Jack Ramsay and Sacramento Kings coach Dick Motta.
"Eight hundred wins is really the 800,000 people who have helped me get there," said Fitch. "That includes the players, the fans, the coaches and the referees."
King, the Bullets' leading scorer with a 29.5-point average, missed his third straight game with a strained lower back. Jones pulled a groin muscle in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday and is out seven to 10 days.
"I had to start a different lineup again tonight," said Washington coach Wes Unseld, who inserted forward John Williams into the lineup in place of Jones. "I'm not going to lose my patience. We lost a tough game [Friday] night, and we didn't come out and play the way I wanted, but it is just a matter of us getting healthy and staying consistent."
In the meantime, all Washington is doing consistently is losing. The Bullets are all but certain to have their logo on display during the National Basketball Association lottery, as they dropped their 17th game in the last 20 contests. The Bullets -- who have lost a franchise-record seven straight at home -- are eight games behind the Indiana Pacers for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 19 games remaining.
Washington reached its depths in the fourth quarter when it scored just 17 points and missed 21 of 28 shots from the field.
The Bullets were paced by 14 points each from Ledell Eackles and Haywoode Workman. Pervis Ellison grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, but shot just 5-for-14 from the field.
New Jersey, which beat the Bullets for the first time in three meetings this season -- was paced by 22 points from Derrick Coleman and 20 from Mookie Blaylock. Coleman, who was guarded by Williams, grabbed 11 rebounds.
"We have people hurt, and we're not producing," said Williams, who made his first start of the season and played 26 minutes. "We're playing hard in spurts, but we're young and it's going to take time. It's tough to win without our leading scorer and our best defensive player in Charles Jones."
A basket by Ellison to open the third period brought the Bullets within 59-49 -- the closest they would come to New Jersey the rest of the night. Chris Morris then made a three-point basket to start an 11-2 surge that carried New Jersey to a 70-51 advantage with 8 minutes, 53 seconds remaining.
Eackles made two baskets and Greg Foster two more to pace Washington on an 8-2 run midway through the period. That surge left Washington trailing, 77-64, with 2:51 left.
But New Jersey closed the period with a 10-5 run -- on six points from Coleman and four from Blaylock -- to lead, 87-69, heading into the final period.
Washington 27 20 22 17 -- 86
New Jersey 32 27 28 23 -- 110