LANDOVER -- Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson made a big issue of giving rookies Billy Owens and Victor Alexander their first start, but it was All-NBA forward Chris Mullin and sixth man Sarunas Marciulionis who burned the Washington Bullets XTC last night by combining for 67 points in a 127-119 victory.
Mullin led the way with 38, but Marciulionis proved unstoppable in the fourth quarter, as he scored 11 of his 29 points, consistently beating a slower Ledell Eackles for layups.
The game was tied at 105 when Mullin and Marciulionis accounted for 11 of the Warriors' next 13 points for a 118-113 lead, and they were never headed in boosting their record to 5-1.
It was the third straight loss for the Bullets, who opened with two victories after going through a winless preseason. Pervis Ellison led Washington with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors, who won their first four games before losing in Philadelphia Friday night, made the first major trade of the season by sending high-scoring shooting guard Mitch Richmond the Sacramento Kings for Owens, whom the Kings were unable to sign.
Owens, who skipped his senior year at Syracuse to turn pro, was the third choice in the NBA draft behind UNLV forward Larry Johnson and Georgia Tech guard Kenny Anderson. Golden State wasted little time signing Owens to a seven-year deal worth a reported $20 million.
Seeking more scoring up front, Nelson has initially employed the 6-foot-9 Owens at power forward, but says the gifted athlete is capable of playing every position on the floor, including point guard.
But last night Owens got his first NBA start at shooting guard, replacing Marciulionis.
"Owens is a starter in my mind, just like [point guard] Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin," said Nelson. "I want him out on the floor. If I bring in Marciulionis, I can move Owens up front.
Nelson made another significant change, replacing starting center Alton Lister with Alexander, out of Iowa State.
"I'm going to look at this lineup for a period of time," Nelson said. "If the rookies don't respond, I'll change it."
The new-look Warriors looked out of sync defensively in the opening minutes, as the Bullets consistently beat them in transition to open an 8-4 lead.
The game was three minutes old when Charles Jones picked up his third foul and was replaced by Greg Foster.
Mullin took over the Warrior offense, scoring nine points to push the visitors ahead, 14-12. Foster contributed eight quick points to reclaim the lead, 23-20.
The whistle blew constantly in the last six minutes of the quarter, but the Bullets used Ellison's inside game to gain a 37-28 advantage. The first quarter ended with Washington leading, 39-33. Twenty-one fouls were called. Mullin had 17 points.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Foster was forced to the bench with four fouls. The Bullets began asserting themselves on the offensive boards. Baskets by Ellison and Harvey Grant provided a 51-45 edge.
With Washington leading, 60-54, Grant and Hardaway got in a shoving match. They were assessed matching technicals. In a bizarre move, Mullin's two free throws after the technicals were taken off the board. Hardaway, who had been fouled prior to the incident, then made one of two.
The Bullets ended the wild half with a 67-62 lead.
Michael Adams, held to eight points in the first half, scored six in the first three minutes of the third quarter to boost Washington's lead to 77-68. He then electrified the crowd with a no-look pass to A.J. English for a layup.
After stretching the lead to 11 points, the Bullets offense stalled as Mullin and Rod Higgins and Tyrone Hill trimmed the deficit to 85-82. Eackles snapped this Warrior spurt with four straight points.
The Bullets were then guilty of mental errors on both ends of the floor. When Ellison was called for goal-tending on a Marciulionis drive, the Warriors closed within a basket after three quarters, 93-91.
An open jump shot by Mullin pulled Golden State into a 95-95 tie with 9 minutes and 30 seconds left. Higgins' 20-footer one minute later gave the visitors the lead.
Eackles replaced David Wingate and made consecutive jumpers put the Bullets back on top, 101-99. Just as quickly, Eackles was burned by Marciulionis for a tying layup and Higgins made two free throws gave the Warriors a 103-101 edge with six minutes left.
A breakaway layup by Marciulionis gave Golden State a 113-107 cushion with three minutes and 35 seconds remaining.