LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets have turned their attention to postseason awards, outfitting their cheerleaders in T-shirts that tout Harvey Grant as the league's most improved player.
New Jersey Nets forward Derrick Coleman did some touting of his own last night, continuing to look like a shoo-in for National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year. Coleman powered his way inside for 29 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Nets beat the Bullets, 108-103, before 5,191 at the Capital Centre.
The win not only broke the Bullets' three-game win streak -- their longest of the season -- and their 13-game win streak over the Nets at the Capital Centre, but it also broke a 20-game road losing streak for the Nets.
"When he [Coleman] came into the league, people were saying he couldn't do this or he couldn't do that, but he has proven a lot of people wrong," said Grant, who finished with 20 points. "I think he's a lock for Rookie of the Year, and he has proven he can really play in this league."
Coleman spent much of the night going against Bullets forward John Williams, who turned in another solid performance with 27 points. Coleman did not have to deal with Washington center Pervis Ellison, who did not play after spraining the ring finger on his left hand Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ellison, Charles Jones (groin muscle), Bernard King (back), Mark Alarie (knee) and Byron Irvin (ankle) all watched from the bench last night. Before the game, the Bullets signed guard Larry Robinson and put Jones on the injured list with Alarie.
"We have a lot of injuries, there's no question about that, and there's no question that's really hurt us," said Williams. "When you lose a Bernard King or Charles Jones and Pervis too, that hurts. Those are big holes to fill, and tonight we just didn't do it."
Second-year guard Mookie Blaylock gave the Nets a lift off the bench with 24 points and eight assists. With Blaylock in the game, the Nets outscored the Bullets, 89-68. With rookie Tate George in, the Bullets outscored the Nets, 35-19.
Early on, the Bullets seemed in control, racing to a 36-27 first-quarter lead behind Ledell Eackles' 11 points.
But Blaylock came off the bench to spark the Nets in the second quarter, as they built a 62-58 halftime lead. The Bullets led by eight early in the third quarter, but the Nets again rallied to tie the game at 81-81 heading into the final period.
Opponent: Orlando Magic
Site: Orlando Arena
Radio: WTOP (1500 AM)
TV: Channel 20
Outlook: The Bullets and the Magic have met just once this tTC season, on Jan. 21. The Bullets won, 121-119, as Harvey Grant scored 31. Rookie Dennis Scott had 30 for the Magic. The Magic is 22-17 at home but has lost 7 of its past 10 overall. With 29 `` victories, the Magic has won 11 more games than it did in its inaugural season a year ago. The Magic has not beaten the Bullets in 5 tries.