LANDOVER -- Pervis Ellison will never come right out and say that he's being vindicated. He's much too unassuming for that kind of braggadocio.
But his play in the middle of the Washington lineup is speaking volumes. Last night, he carried the Bullets to a 127-118 double-overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers at the Capital Centre.
Ellison scored 27 points and pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds -- 16 after halftime -- to pull the Bullets back into the game.
The 6-foot-10 center, in his third year from Louisville, is fewer than 12,000 votes behind the New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing in fan balloting for Eastern Conference centers for next month's All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla.
The voting totals and Ellison's statistics (20.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game) indicate that he's changing the minds of people who didn't believe he should have been the NBA's top pick in 1989.
"It's a matter of falling into the right situation," said Ellison, who came to the Bullets from the Sacramento Kings. "I've been fortunate to get a lot of playing time under Coach [Wes] Unseld.
"I didn't even know that [about the All-Star balloting]. I guess it [making the team] will mean that I've improved. If I can keep doing that, then everything else will fall into place."
Unseld has made Ellison a personal project, and it seems to have paid off, particularly on the boards.
"The key to rebounding is going after the basketball. Having a little luck helps too,' said Ellison.
"Pervis has more confidence in himself," said Unseld. "I hope to see him like this a lot more.
"He was doing what I call sweeping, meaning he was not just jumping in one spot for rebounds, but going over to hit other spots as well."
That kind of play was a necessity to get the Bullets (14-21), who have won two straight and are 4-0 in overtime, back into the contest.
They trailed 69-55 with seven minutes left in the third quarter and were out-rebounded 23-15 in the first half, thanks to Indiana's Rik Smits and Detlef Schrempf.
Smits, a 7-4 center, had 26 points and 16 rebounds and held his own for most of the night against the more agile Ellison, muscling with him in the paint and hitting soft jumpers just outside the lane.
"They're (Ellison and Smits) two very similar types of players," said Unseld "They're both effective if they're allowed to do what they can do."
Schrempf, a 6-10 forward who was named last season's top sixth man in the NBA, scored 29 points, both inside and outside, blistering the Bullets for 18 before halftime on 9-for-10 shooting.
He's probably in the top five players in the league," said Bullets forward Harvey Grant. "He can beat you outside or he can post you inside. When the other guys can't hit their shots, he can come in and fill it up."
The Bullets, on the strength of Ellison's rebounding and reserve guard A.J. English's season-high 27 points, climbed back into the game, tying the the score after three periods at 79.