LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets may be heading for an early vacation next week when the National Basketball Association playoffs begin, but they gave a glimpse of a brighter future last night in beating the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, 112-106.
It gave the Bullets a three-game winning streak, tying their longest of the season, but it was the way they rallied to beat the playoff-bound Bucks that had to give coach Wes Unseld the most encouragement.
Two key players in the team's rebuilding plans, forward John Williams and center Pervis Ellison, showed how much potential the Bullets could have if they remain sound.
Williams, who missed more than a year following knee surgery in December 1990, then reported to work badly out of shape, showed his pre-injury form in registering his second career triple double (22 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds).
He forced the overtime by driving through Bucks defenders for a layup with 1.7 seconds remaining to tie the game at 98. Williams scored eight of the Bullets' 14 points in overtime.
But Ellison, obtained from Sacramento after missing most of his rookie season with assorted injuries, was even more impressive.
Attacking both boards and slamming home four lob passes from Williams, Ellison finished his best effort of the year with 27 points on 7-for-13 shooting, grabbed a career-tying 15 rebounds and blocked four shots.
"Pervis and I played together on all-star teams coming out of high school," said Williams. "He's really coming into his own now, and our chemistry is much better. All I have to do is throw the ball up because he's such a great leaper."
But it was Williams, 260 pounds, who demoralized the Bucks with his timely shooting and deft passing.
"Williams hit some shots with three guys on him," said Bucks forward Fred Roberts. "He's out there falling down, throws it up and it still goes in. And when he missed, Ellison usually picked it up and scored."
Progress has been slow for Williams, still wearing a cumbersome brace on his right knee, but Unseld is showing growing confidence in his most versatile performer.
"There has been a certain amount of improvement every game from John," said Unseld. "Tonight, he did some incredible things with the ball, especially for a guy playing on one sound leg."
In the overtime, Unseld virtually turned the game over to Williams.