AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Washington Bullets gained the dubious distinction of becoming the second NBA team to lose 20 games last night.
The Detroit Pistons, victors in 12 of their last 15 games, did the honors with a 118-110 victory before a sellout crowd of 21,454 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Joe Dumars did most of the damage for Detroit with 36 points. Orlando Woolridge had a season-high 29 points and Bill Laimbeer added 20.
Pervis Ellison led the Bullets (8-20) with 27 points. Harvey Grant had 26 and Rex Chapman added 19.
Only the lowly Dallas Mavericks (2-22) have lost more games than the Bullets this season. Washington has dropped 10 of its last 11 games.
Still, coach Wes Unseld isn't throwing in the towel.
"I've got plenty of ideas left," said Unseld. "That's about all I've got."
The Bullets got behind early and never could get back in the ballgame. Detroit extended a six-point halftime lead to 13 early in the third quarter. The Bullets cut it back to seven points late in the quarter. But the Pistons still led, 88-79, going into the final 12 minutes.
After that, the Pistons would pull ahead by as many as 11 points, and the Bullets would try desperately to close the gap. A three-point field goal by Chapman cut Detroit's lead to seven points with about one minute to play.
The Bullets shot 50 percent from the field, but Detroit was even better, shooting 56 percent, largely because of Dumars, who made 12 of 20 shots.
"They were hot, but we helped them a little bit defensively," Unseld said. "We settle for long shots. We don't have any penetration. Dumars is a competitor. He comes to play."
Ellison seems to have regained his quickness after an earlier strained knee ligament.
"I'm moving laterally better and I'm able to jump," said Ellison. "It's tough winning anywhere on the road. When you go on the road you have to execute at both ends, especially in key situations when their crowd is into the game."
The Bullets were never able to get the big baskets when needed. The Pistons' Dennis Rodman, the leading rebounder in the NBA, would always seem to come up with a key rebound, block or deflection when the Bullets needed to make a play.
The Bullets committed only six turnovers, but never could produce any serious momentum.
Meanwhile, the Pistons seemed to get all the big baskets they needed. Rodman, who had 23 rebounds, even scored 10 points. Isiah Thomas, returning from the funeral of his father-in-law in Chicago, had 14 points and 11 assists.