ATLANTA -- The Washington Bullets lost their third straight game last night, this time to the middling Atlanta Hawks, but they found encouraging signs in the 105-94 defeat.
Second-year center Pervis Ellison, for example, followed up his career-high 30-point effort Friday against the Indianapolis Pacers with 26 points to lead Washington.
Also, forward Tom Hammonds, Washington's lottery pick from a year ago, played with an effectiveness reminiscent of his days in Atlanta at Georgia Tech.
"We did some things well," Washington coach Wes Unseld said. "Considering we had two starters [forward Bernard King and center-forward Charles Jones] out of the lineup, we did some very good things. I thought my guys worked hard enough to give themselves a chance to win."
But the result was a loss that dropped the Bullets to 27-48, as Dominique Wilkins led Atlanta (40-35) with 29 points and Duane Ferrell (Calvert Hall), a former teammate of Hammonds' at Georgia Tech, added 20.
The Bullets didn't go quietly. Atlanta appeared in control with an 84-69 lead a minute into the fourth quarter, and later 95-81, but Washington cut the lead to six points each time.
Ellison was the constant, hitting 12 of 17 from the field. Against the Pacers, he hit 14 of 16.
"That's not just back-to-back good games for Pervis," Unseld said. "He's been playing very well for a while now."
Ellison, who grew up in Savannah, entered the game averaging 15.0 points and 9.6 rebounds in his 25 games as a starter. Compare that with season averages of 9.9 points and 7.5 rebounds and it becomes easier to understand what the Sacramento Kings saw when they made Ellison the No. 1 pick in the 1989 National Basketball Association draft.
Why the change? In short, Pervis is not nervous as a starter.
"I admire people who can come off the bench and play well, but it was tough for me," he said. "Since I got the starting job, I've just been more comfortable."
The Bullets also got 18 points from reserve guard Ledell Eackles, who helped cut the lead to 85-79 on an 18-footer with 7:52 left in the game. But Atlanta went on a 10-2 binge for a 95-81 lead.
NOTES: King missed his seventh straight game with a sore back, the 11th he has missed in the last 14. A pulled groin muscle kept Jones out of the lineup for the 12th straight game. . . . Monday's loss left Washington with a split of its 4-game season series with the Hawks. It also was the Bullets' fifth straight road loss and their 13th in their past 14. Washington is 6-21 since the All-Star break.