CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's seldom that Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld faults the effort of his team. But effort isn't always enough in the NBA.
Ledell Eackles and Harvey Grant combined for 55 points, but the Bullets still lost to the Charlotte Hornets, 118-109 last night.
Eackles scored 30 and Grant had 25 for the Bullets (24-51). Charlotte had six players score in double figures, led by Kenny Gattison's 23. Hornets forward Johnny Newman, playing in his first game since breaking the ring finger of his shooting hand on Feb. 28, scored 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
The Bullets trailed by as many as 12 points with 5:11 left in the game, but cut it three -- 107-104 with 3:33 left -- after a 9-0 run by Washington. But four points each by Gattison and Newman in a 38-second span gave the Hornets a team-record 30th win on the season.
"There haven't been many nights I wasn't satisfied with our effort, but you have to get past that when everyone gets back," Unseld said, referring to the fact the Bullets have been without starting center Pervis Ellison for the past four games because of a pulled groin muscle.
Despite Ellison's absence, the Bullets were able to out-rebound Charlotte, 53-43. Grant led the Bullets with 14 rebounds followed by Charles Jones and Greg Foster, each with 10.
"Our best rebounder [Ellison] was not here tonight, and we don't rebound as well without him," Unseld said. "With Ellison out, I was just happy that we were able to hang tough on the boards.
"I tried to substitute more tonight because we played last night [a 119-85 win over Detroit on Friday]. I wanted the guys to be fresher, so that is why I went to the bench more than usual."
A.J. English came off the Bullets bench to score 10 points. Greg Foster and Larry Stewart had eight points each coming off the bench.
But when it came to scoring, the Bullets had to rely on Eackles, Grant and Michael Adams, who scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
"We weren't so much looking to go to Michael Adams [after the Bullets cut the score to 107-104]," Unseld said. "Michael creates his own stuff. We were looking more to Grant and Eackles."
When Eackles hit an eight-foot shot with 3:34 left, that brought the Bullets within three points. Eackles had 18 points in the first half and was responsible for keeping the Bullets in the game, as they trailed 58-53 at the break.
"We had a shot at it, we just missed some key shots at the end that we usually make," Eackles said.
"It felt good to play this well without Pervis, but you have to play every night. When you lose, you have to start all over again."
Grant says it is his responsibility to step up and assume a bigger role in Ellison's absence.
"Any time you have your leading scorer and rebounder out of the game, everyone needs to step up to make up the difference," Grant said.