LANDOVER -- It was a "homecoming" for former Georgetown star Dikembe Mutombo at the Capital Centre last night. But Mutombo was upstaged by another ex-Hoya, Reggie Williams, who made a critical three-point shot in the closing minutes to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 106-99 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,756.
It marked only the fourth road victory in 25 games for the Nuggets (20-32) while the Bullets' home record slipped to 8-18.
Williams led Denver with 20 points and nine rebounds. Mutombo chipped in with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Pervis Ellison topped the Bullets with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
This was Mutombo's first appearance at the Capital Centre since his All-America days with the Hoyas.
"I hope I'm not too excited," said the 7-foot-2 center who is almost a certainty to win Rookie of the Year honors. "I just have to try and treat it as another game."
Williams was not the only other ex-Hoya on the court. David Wingate, who like Williams starred at Dunbar before going to Georgetown, started for the Bullets.
With Harvey Grant still favoring a bruised shin, Ledell Eackles made his third straight start at small forward. He had scored 70 points in the last two games. And the trade of Tommy Hammonds to Charlotte returned Charles Jones to center with the task of guarding Mutombo, five inches taller.
Led by Pervis Ellison and Eackles, the Bullets jumped out to a 17-9 lead in the first six minutes. But the Nuggets answered with five straight. This streak was interrupted by a technical against Williams, protesting a foul call. Michael Adams converted.
Aggressive offensive rebounding by Jones and Larry Stewart helped Washington boost its spread to 26-18. But Todd Lichti made a three-point play to cut the Bullets' margin to 26-21 after one quarter. Ellison had 12 points in the period.
Grant came off the bench to hit three jump shots and keep the Bullets in front, 34-28. Greg Anderson made two acrobatic layups to trim the deficit to 38-36 and Williams tied it on a fast break. But Ellison worked inside for a layup and basket off a lob pass by Grant to spark a 7-0 Bullets run and reclaim the lead, 45-38.
In less than a minute, Ellison got hit below the belt and Jones caught an elbow in the eye from Mutombo. A slam dunk by reserve center Greg Foster left Washington clinging to a 47-44 halftime lead.
At halftime, Jones required eight stitches to repair his gashed left eye. The Bullets shot only 39 percent in the first half, with Adams hitting three of 10 field-goal attempts. Ellison (7-for-10) led Washington with 18 points. The Nuggets shot 42 percent.
Williams, with nine points, was their high scorer, but was 3-for-9 from the field. Denver used a 6-0 spurt to bounce on top, 52-50, in the opening minutes of the third quarter But two rebounding hoops by Eackles, a baseline jumper by Ellison and four free throws by Adams gave Washington a 60-54 cushion.
After holing another jumper for 68-62, Eackles drew his fourth personal and was replaced by Grant. The Bullets began missing layups and close-in shots because of Mutombo's intimidating presence. He swatted away an attempt by Stewart.
But when Mutombo rested, Washington built its lead to 77-68 on layups by English and Stewart. Lichti's jump shot ended the third quarter with the Bullets enjoying a seven-point lead.
Play began to turn physical, with Wingate trading shoves with Denver guard Winston Garland. A short jumper by Garland cut the Bullets' lead to 80-76 with 10 minutes left.
Play was then interrupted by a brief scuffle between Mutombo and Foster. Foster got called for a foul, but got a measure of revenge when Mutombo missed a slam dunk.
The Bullets began shooting bonus free throws with 9 1/2 minutes remaining. But they could not get a comfortable lead. Denver closed to 84-79 before Mark Macon blew an easy layup. But after Grant hit a jump shot, Macon scored four straight points to make it 86-83.
The Nuggets got to within a point on three straight possessions before Mutombo made consecutive dunks for a 91-90 lead. But Ellison answered with a jam off a rebound.
Denver kept getting the ball down low to Mutombo, and Stewart picked up his sixth foul trying to defend him. With the score tied at 93, Mutombo missed two free throws, but then rejected a driving shot by Eackles. Garland's 25-footer gave Denver a 95-93 lead with 2:32 to play.