John Wall's jumper pulls Washington Wizards past Chicago Bulls

By Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 11, 2017 at 2:31 AM
| License Photo

WASHINGTON -- Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine had good reason for feeling jubilant about his performance deep into Chicago's game against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

It was just that his celebration woke up John Wall's inner monster.

Wall hit the game-winning jump shot with five seconds remaining as the Wizards rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 101-99 win over the Bulls.

Wall led the way with 26 points and 14 assists as the Wizards (19-18) earned their 10th consecutive home win to move over .500 for the first time this season.

That scenario seemed in doubt late even though the Bulls (19-20) played without leading scorers Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade plus key reserve Nikola Mirotic.

Chicago led 92-85 with 7:38 remaining as Valentine, who scored a career-high 19 points, sank his fifth 3-pointer to cap a 14-2 run. As Washington called timeout, the Bulls bench roared and Chicago's first-round pick danced.

Wall took notice and let Valentine know when play resumed.

"I just walked over there," Wall said, "and as I was coming out of the huddle I said, 'That's how you feel?' And I said, 'You woke a monster up.'"

Washington survived an uninspired first half and still trailed 99-97 with 57.6 seconds left. The first of Wall's two baskets in the final minute tied the game. After Michael Carter-Williams' runner missed on Chicago's next possession, Wall drained a jumper from the right wing.

"It was great," Wall said of the final shot. "I've been in that situation plenty of times where I've missed that shot, and didn't have the confidence to even take it. But I felt confident with that one, and I'm glad we got a stop when we did.

The Bulls had one last chance, but Doug McDermott missed a 3-pointer.

"It wasn't because of lack of effort we lost that game," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Unfortunately, that shot came up a little short there down the stretch, and Wall made huge plays."

Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris each had 19 points for the Wizards. Morris scored 10 points in the final period.

The Wizards, who started the season 2-8, now own a winning record for the first time since Nov. 24, 2015.

"It was a real big win to be over .500," said Morris, who was acquired from the Phoenix Suns last February. "We haven't been over .500 since I got here actually, so it just feels good."

Butler and Mirotic were sidelined due to illness. The Bulls, who lost 109-94 on Monday at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder, are resting the 34-year-old Wade during one game of back-to-back scenarios.

Carter-Williams and Robin Lopez each scored 14 points for the Bulls, who shot 39.8 percent from the field.

Chicago entered Tuesday last in 3-point percentage at 31.6 percent. Against the Wizards, they sank 8 of 10 in the first half but missed all nine attempts in the third quarter. The Bulls finished 10 of 27 from long range.

Rajon Rondo had 12 points in 27 minutes after not playing the previous five games for reasons the point guard tried explaining pregame.

"I got a slight explanation from another guy on the (coaching) staff," Rondo said. "The guy told me that he was saving me from myself."

The veteran point guard last played Dec. 30 in a 111-101 loss at Indiana during which he posted a plus-minus rating of minus-20 during 11 first-half minutes.

As for whether he understood the explanation, Rondo, calmly speaking with reporters after Hoiberg's pregame availability, said, "I thought it was (garbage). Save me from myself? I've never heard that before in my life. I guess he was trying to do the best thing for me."

After the game, Hoiberg declined to address Rondo's remarks.

"I'll talk about tonight," the coach said. "I thought he went out there and played his role exactly as we needed him to. He was impressive going to the basket, getting shots at the rim. ...I thought he did a good job organizing us, getting us into offense."

Chicago led 61-43 with 56.9 seconds left in the second quarter. Washington scored the final six points of the half and then outscored Chicago 32-16 in the third quarter for an 81-77 lead.

NOTES: Washington owns the longest active home-court winning streak after the San Antonio Spurs lost at home to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. ... Chicago faces New York on Thursday in what would be its second meeting against ex-Bulls star G Derrick Rose since trading him to the Knicks this past offseason. Rose was AWOL from the team on Monday but returned Tuesday, saying he was tending to a family issue. ... Washington G Tomas Satoransky (illness) left the arena to rest prior to tipoff. ... The Wizards visit the Celtics on Wednesday. Washington defeated Boston at home 118-93 on Nov. 9.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from UPI.com
Related UPI Stories
share with facebook
share with twitter
Trending Stories