LANDOVER -- The circumstances last night hardly were favorable for the Washington Bullets to win their third game in a row.
Center-forward Pervis Ellison, the team's most consistent performer the past month, played only eight minutes against the New Jersey Nets before retiring to the dressing room with a sore lower back.
Scoring leader Bernard King had a similar back problem and was struggling to regain his shooting touch. After making only one of six shots from the field, (5-for-26 the past three games), he was benched at the end of the third quarter.
It was a scene that begged for someone to step front and center. John Williams answered the call, recording season-high 24 points and nine assists to lead the Bullets to a 113-106 victory over the Nets before 5,979 at the Capital Centre.
Williams, still wearing a knee brace, a reminder of the year he missed after major surgery in December 1990, has been slow to regain his pre-injury form since rejoining the team Feb. 12.
"It's been a combination of John being tentative and unselfish," said team captain Darrell Walker. "But we need John's scoring, particularly in a situation like tonight."
Williams was at his best in the last four minutes of the third quarter, accounting for 10 straight Bullets points to provide an 88-78 cushion.
The 6-foot-9, 265-pound power forward scored on jump shots, on leaners in the lane and even on a three-pointer. The quickness was missing, but he was getting by on smarts and ingenuity.
"I'm only 35 to 40 percent to where I want to be, and I've still got some weight to lose," said Williams, the target of jokes since reporting for work in November at 300-plus pounds.
"Tonight, the shots were just there, and I was taking them. They were going in, and I'm very satisfied because we won."
The three-game winning streak is the Bullets' longest since Jan. 4. The Nets dropped their 16th straight on the road and 13th in a row at the Capital Centre, dating to March 17, 1986.
NOTES: King and Ellison were examined by team doctor Steve Haas after the game. King will be benched for a week to rest his back, which forced him to miss 4 games this month. Ellison will be listed as day-to-day and may play against Cleveland on Thursday night.