After the Chicago Bulls suffered a Christmas Day loss to the Houston Rockets, they received an extra day off as a result of a postponed game at the Indiana Pacers the next evening. Saturday’s match-up against the Washington Wizards marked their first game in four days as well as a much-needed win.
To start out the game, the Wizards won the tip and posted the first points as Nene got a layup on a drive to the basket. Chicago answered by moving the ball well as it went from the right baseline with the returning Richard Hamilton to Carlos Boozer to Kirk Hinrich to Luol Deng for a left baseline three. From there, the teams traded buckets, playing pretty evenly. But the Wizards would eventually go on a 10-0 run while the Bulls could not find the bottom of the net.
Trailing 10-14 with 5:00 left in the first quarter, Tom Thibodeau got a timeout. Washington had been beating Chicago’s big men on the glass achieving three second-chance opportunities. From then until the end of the first quarter, the Bulls never really got back, trailing 22-26. Joakim Noah was struggling to score and found himself on the bench early picking up three fouls. Boozer also found himself without points, but he did have 5 rebounds. Hinrich had 7 points and 3 assists while Deng had 5 points.
The second quarter was more to Chicago’s liking as the Wizards struggled to score in the first few minutes. Following a missed three by Marco Belinelli, they forced a shot clock violation against Washington. Deng then hit a tough running jumper to cut the deficit 24-26. Soon, the game was tied as Nate Robinson made a left wing jumper on the fast break. Taj Gibson got Chicago the lead as he posted up and finished with a layup. But once the Bulls got that lead, the game went back and forth a bit. But then Chicago tightened up their defense and ended up outscoring Washington 13-23 at the end of the second quarter, leading 45-39.
Chicago’s lead was extended as the third quarter began. Deng opened the second half with a putback off of his own miss. Then, Boozer scored on two consecutive possessions creating a 10-point Bulls lead. Their largest lead came after this when Noah connected on a left hook, drew a foul, and completed the three-point play making it 54-43. A few possessions later, the Wizards found themselves in rhythm as they were 4-5 on their last five field goals. This run by Washington resulted in a timeout for the Bulls with 4:40 remaining in the third as Chicago led 60-54.
But the timeout did not hinder the progress of the Wizards. They kept it close for a bit, but eventually the Bulls started to lengthen their lead yet again. Hinrich made an offensive play by making a left wing three. Then, Hinrich made a defensive play by getting in the passing lane and grabbing a steal. This led to a dunk for Belinelli to make it 67-58. The offense kept rolling as the third quarter finished with the Bulls on top, 70-63.
The fourth quarter began much differently than the third had began. Following a bucket by Belinelli, the Wizards went on a 4-0 run forcing Chicago to take a timeout. The timeout was ineffective as another one had to be used nearly two and a half minutes later. The Bulls had not scored in that duration while the Wizards came within three. From then on, Chicago picked up their defense and took off to defeat the Wizards.
The Bulls were led by Boozer’s 15 points and 12 rebounds and Belinelli’s 17 points, but the scoring distribution was pretty even. Hinrich had 10 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Deng had 11 points as well as 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Hamilton and Noah each had 9 points. Chicago also took care of the ball committing only 8 turnovers.
Chicago is now 16-12 and are tied with Milwaukee to lead the Central Division. The Bulls will be back on the hardwood on New Year’s Eve as they take on the Charlotte Bobcats at 2 PM CT.