LANDOVER -- The Washington Bullets and Dallas Mavericks, in a battle for the third worst record in the NBA and the improved draft lottery chance that goes with it, battled for every missed shot, every bad pass, every loose ball last night.
The Bullets had lost five straight at home, the Mavericks 15 straight on the road.
When it was over, it was coach Wes Unseld's team with the 119-109 victory, that improved the Bullets' overall record to 20-40, and dropped Dallas to 17-42.
With 6,165 on hand, the Bullets shot 58 percent for the game and put five players in double figures -- Ledell Eackles (23), Pervis Ellison (21) Michael Adams (20) A.J. English (18) and David Wingate (15).
And if that, and breaking the home losing string wasn't enough, Bullets center Charles Jones had a season-high five points.
The game, after a late third-quarter surge that carried Dallas to within five points, was not in doubt as it progressed in the fourth quarter.
With Ellison making key blocks and grabbing timely rebounds on the defensive end, and English, Eackles and Adams hitting on the offensive end in the closing minutes, the Bullets maintained control.
As if to punctuate the victory, English contributed a reverse slam dunk, to give the Bullets a 115-100 lead, and moments later, Eackles, off an assist from Adams, slamed another one home.
When Jones made two free throws with less than a second left, the game was over.
The third quarter was a matter of runs. First Dallas closed within six on a shot by Donald Hodge, and then the Bullets came charging back.
Adams showed off his three-point shooting skills, with two from three-point range and then added another two points, to put the Bullets ahead 65-50.
The margin stayed in the 15-point range, as both sides stuck with most of their starters until, with about four minutes to go, Rolando Blackman and Derrick Harper heated things up.
Blackman, struggling against the fine defensive effort of Wingate, finally broke through for six points and assisted on another score. Suddenly, Dallas was within five at 77-72 with less than a minute to play.
Harper had a chance to pull the Mavericks to within three points with 28.5 seconds left in the quarter, but missed two free throws. When LaBradford Smith made a shot in the lane, just before the quarter ended, Dallas found itself down by seven.
The Bullets struggled at the outset, allowing Dallas an 11-6 lead, as they tried to establish Eackles.
Eackles, who would wind up with 13 first half points, missed two of his first three shots.
Eackles finally got the Bullets' first basket with 9:59 to play in the first quarter. Forward Ellison added a 22-footer from the top of the key, but then Wingate and Eackles committed back-to-back turnovers, forcing Unseld to take a time-out.
After the break, Eackles' began taking advantage of his quickness.
As the first quarter wore on, Eackles was able to outmaneuver Dallas small forwards Doug Smith and Randy White. With less than four minutes left in the quarter, Eackles hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc for a 21-16 lead.
Dallas, last in scoring in the NBA, showed why in the second quarter.
While the Bullets went on an 11-point scoring spree in the first six minutes of the second period, the Mavericks were busy missing seven of eight shots and making five turnovers.
With Wingate (11 points in the half) and English (four points) and Andre Turner (three points) leading the way, the Bullets' lead went from 32-25 to 43-27.
But the Bullets, who had not won in five straight home games, also are not known for their consistency. Near the end of the quarter, the ball movement that meant so much early stopped, opening the door to Dallas.
With Harper scoring nine of his 16 first half points in the closing three minutes, Dallas closed to within 10, at 54-44, by the half.