John Wall powers Washington Wizards to win over Chicago Bulls

By Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange   |   March 18, 2017 at 8:26 AM
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WASHINGTON -- Though some bad defensive habits cropped again during the fourth quarter, the Washington Wizards returned to the winner's circle. The Chicago Bulls showed they could run with one of the Eastern Conference contenders despite playing without Dwyane Wade, but ultimately, they added another one to the loss column.

John Wall set his career-high with 20 assists and Bradley Beal scored 24 points as the Washington Wizards rebounded from a rare home loss with a 112-107 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

The Wizards (42-26) let most of a 19-point halftime lead slip away, but ultimately held on to snap a two-game losing streak. Otto Porter and Wall each sank two free throws inside the final 19 seconds remaining after Jimmy Butler's 3-pointer made the score 108-107 with 39.7 seconds.

Butler had 28 points for the Bulls (32-37), but missed the potential tying 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left. Chicago shot 50 percent from the field and scored 67 points in the second half.

Wall had 14 points and played 33 minutes despite suffering a sprained left foot Wednesday's 112-107 home setback against the Dallas Mavericks. The Wizards had a season-high 32 assists.

"I think just the fourth quarter we gave up a lot of open threes, and a lot of straight line drives," Wall said. "Other than that, I think we played a great game, but we just have to do a better job of being consistent for 48 minutes."

The Wizards won the season series with the Bulls 3-1 and improved to 27-10 at home. Only Golden State and Cleveland have more home wins than Washington this season.

Chicago, which has lost two in a row and seven of eight, played its first game since losing Wade to a small fracture in his right elbow. Robin Lopez had a season-high 25 points and 12 rebounds.

"We were just lazy -- and I hate this word -- and soft," Butler said of Chicago's first half work. "Then we decided to play some better basketball in the second half."

As for that final attempt, the All-Star said, "We executed the play pretty decently. I shot it, I missed it. To tell you the truth, I thought it was going in."

Down 84-72 entering the fourth, Chicago closed within 91-87 on Joffrey Lauvergne's short jumper with 6:16 remaining. Following a timeout, Beal and Wall re-entered the game. Washington's starting backcourt scored or assisted on the Wizards' final eight field goals. Yet the Wizards couldn't run way from the Bulls until the final seconds.

"We're going to have to look at the film, but it wasn't obviously as good," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Washington's defense in the second half compared to a solid early effort.

Defensive struggles, particularly early in games and against 3-point shooters, plagued Washington on its recent five-game road trip and against the Mavericks, who sank 7 of 12 from deep in the fourth quarter.

Wade, the Bulls' second-leading scorer, went out in Wednesday's 91-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 12-time All-Star will miss the remainder of the regular season.

Forward Nikola Mirotic had 15 points for the Bulls. The NBA's worst 3-point shooting team finished 7 of 27 from beyond the arc while the Wizards hit 10 of 26.

Jason Smith matched his season-high with 17 points in his first start of the season. He replaced Markieff Morris (illness) in the starting lineup and made his first three 3-point attempts.

"It was solely attributed to John," Smith said of his early offense. "He was distributing the ball to everybody. I'm just hitting open shots when I can."

Ian Mahinmi had 16 points and Porter finished with 14.

Washington has not lost three or more games in a row since Nov. 11-16

Capped by Wall 3-pointer, Washington closed the second period with a 10-0 run to enter halftime up 59-40. That was Wall's only basket of the first half, but he had 12 assists.

"I really challenged them at halftime," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "It was one of those situations where we weren't getting back in transition, we were turning the ball over and we weren't rebounding. ... We went out there in the second half and turned things around and really battled and fought."

NOTES:

-- Washington plays at Charlotte on Saturday. The Wizards, who have swept their last four sets of back-to-back games, lead the season series with the Hornets 2-0.

-- Bulls G Cameron Payne (right foot) missed his second consecutive game and won't play in Saturday's home contest against the Jazz, coach Fred Hoiberg said. Chicago won at Utah, 85-77, on Nov.17.

-- With their 42nd win of the season, the Wizards ensured a better record than last season's 41-41 mark.

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