LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets held the Cleveland Cavaliers without a field goal for the first 7 minutes, 48 seconds of the fourth quarter and used a 14-0 spurt to carry them to a 101-82 victory at the Capital Centre last night.
It ended a three-game losing streak for the Bullets (27-45). Cleveland, playing without its two top scorers, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance, slipped to 25-47.
Ledell Eackles led Washington with 21 points and fellow reserve guard A.J. English added 16. Forward Harvey Grant grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Henry James topped the losers with 19 points.
With Daugherty out, former Duke All-American Danny Ferry made his second straight National Basketball Association start for the Cavaliers.
The Bullets spotted Cleveland a 4-0 lead and then used the rebounding, shooting and shot-blocking of to move ahead, 14-10, in the first period.
Both teams then struggled to score over the next five minutes. Eackles came off the bench to score six points and provide Washington with a 22-14 cushion. But James, a Cleveland reserve, was equally hot for the Cavaliers. He scored seven points in two minutes to leave Washington with a 26-21 lead after one quarter.
Cleveland pulled into a tie at 28 early in the second quarter, but Eackles then sparked an 8-0 Bullets run. Gerald Paddio sliced the deficit to 38-33, before Eackles and Grant led an 8-1 run for a 51-37 lead.
With the Bullets dominating the boards, 29-17, they finished the first half with a 54-41 advantage. Eackles led the scoring with 16 points. Ellison had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Washington managed two points in the first five minutes of the second half as Cleveland ran off nine straight to reduce the margin to 56-51.
The Bullets' offense was out of sync. Ball movement stopped and the Cavaliers defense forced turnovers or low percentage shots. When Craig Ehlo made a reverse layup and Williams hit two free throws Cleveland trailed, 63-62.
Ferry then broke loose for a dunk to put the visitors ahead, 64-63, as the Bullets' frustration mounted. Eackles regained his shooting touch and scored five points to reclaim the lead, 70-68. After three quarters, Washington was clinging to a 72-70 edge. The Bullets shot 36 percent in the period.
A total of four points was scored in the first four minutes of the final quarter as the game turned even more ugly. Haywoode Workman and English ended the famine by hitting consecutive jumpers to give the Bullets a 78-72 advantage.
With more than seven minutes gone in the fourth quarter, Cleveland was still looking for its first field goal. The Cavaliers missed 14 shots and committed five turnovers in this futile stretch.
Three points by Greg Foster and hoops by Williams and Grant gave the home team an 86-72 lead. James finally made a hoop for Cleveland with 4:11 remaining.
NOTES: Although the Cavaliers will miss the playoffs for the first time in four years, coach Lenny Wilkens had his contract extended for another four years at a reported $500,000 a season. There was supposed to be friction between Wilkens and general manager Wayne Embry, causing a delay in announcing Wilkens' new pact. "Lenny and Wayne are our guys," said team owner Gordon Gund. "We never thought of making a change. I'm not happy with our record, but injuries are a big part of that. I also believe stability is important," added Gund, noting that Embry and Wilkens have worked together for five years. "Because of a run of bad luck, I couldn't see throwing the baby out with the bath water. I still trust the judgment of Wayne and Lenny." . . . Injuries continue to plague the Cavaliers and Bullets. Cleveland lost point G Mark Price the first month of the season, and Williams, a power forward, missed 37 games with a foot injury. The Cavaliers are now without C Daugherty, the scoring and rebounding leader who has missed the last three games with a sprained foot. A back injury has sidelined Bullets scoring leader Bernard King for four games. He has been joined on the bench by reserve C Charles Jones (groin) and F Mark Alarie (sore knee).