Chicago 96, Washington 78, Game 77 of 82 (Wizards 40-37)
The Bulls also played on Friday night. They traveled after that game, as well. Chicago came to Verizon Center after a win in Milwaukee the night before. Some teams react differently to back-to-backs.
On Saturday night, Chicago (45-32) held Washington to 31% shooting in the first half, and cruised to an easy victory over the Wizards. Chicago has won its last five contests. The Bulls are the third seed in the Eastern Conference (pending the result of Toronto’s Saturday night game at Minnesota), so Washington could see this Bulls team in the first round of the playoffs. After this game, would Washington want that?
Washington shot 39.5% from the field, and tallied 40 rebounds (14 offensive), 16 assists on 34 baskets, 6 steals, 12 turnovers and 4 blocked shots. John Wall led the team with 20 points and 6 assists, while tallying only one turnover. Marcin Gortat added 19 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.
Chicago shot 44.3% from the field. The Bulls collected 45 rebounds (11 offensive), 24 assists on 35 baskets, 7 steals, 11 turnovers and 4 blocked shots. Reserve point guard D.J. Augustin had a game-high 25 points (including 6 three-pointers). Center Joakim Noah contributed 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Chicago led 52-26 at halftime. Washington got this shooting production from the starting five in the first half:
Trevor Ariza (who appears to be fighting flu-like symptoms) – 0-for-6 from the field, 0-for-3 on three-pointers.
Trevor Booker – 1-of-5
Marcin Gortat – 5-of-5
Bradley Beal – 2-of-8, 0-of-3 on three-pointers
John Wall – 4-of-11, 0-of-1 on three-pointer
While Washington went zero-of-eight from three-point range and zero-of-four from the foul line, Chicago went 5-of-10 from three range and 11-of-14 from the foul line in the first half. Was it tired legs? A lack of focus? Some other reason?
The third quarter went slightly better, with Washington shooting 14-of-20 from the floor (70%) in the period. The Wizards got the deficit down to 72-61 on a Martell
Webster three-pointer with seventy-one seconds left in the quarter. That was as good as it would get the rest of the way.
After Chicago led 76-61 to close out the third quarter, the teams swapped baskets in the fourth quarter. Washington got no closer than 13 points the rest of the game. This was a disheartening loss for the Wizards. Professional pride dictates that Washington will look to redeem themselves if they meet Chicago in the playoffs. The less said about this game, the better.
Washington stays home for a few days off before taking on Charlotte (Wednesday, 9 April), before going to Orlando (Friday, 11 April). Then, it’s the last two regular season home games, against Milwaukee (Saturday, 12 April) and Miami (Monday, 14 April). The regular season finale is at Boston (Wednesday, 16 April). It’s obvious by now – this is the team Washington is taking into the playoffs. Even when Nene comes back to the lineup, there will be times the team plays with great passion. There will be other times the team plays with a lack of energy. How long can Washington sustain the former, and how well can they mitigate the latter?
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