Saturday, January 18, 2014
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Wizards creep closer to .500 with win over Bulls

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[January 18, 2014]  WASHINGTON  John Wall has yet to be part of a team with a winning record during his NBA career. Washington's efficient offense and late game defense vs. the Chicago Bulls put the Wizards and the point guard on the cusp of crossing that record milestone.

Wall had 23 points and 11 assists as the Wizards won their third straight game and second over the Chicago Bulls this week with a 96-93 victory on Friday night.

Forward Martell Webster and guard Bradley Beal each had 14 points for the Wizards (19-19), who reached .500 for the third time this season.

Washington, which has not posted a winning record since Oct. 31, 2009, shot 50.6 percent from the field in the seesaw affair that included 12 lead changes and 11 ties.

Center Marcin Gortat added 13 points and forward Nene had 10 points and two blocks for the Wizards. Nene's final swat came on the final play as he defended Chicago forward Jimmy Butler's attempted game-tying 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining. Washington held the Bulls to one field goal inside the final 5:16.

Our defense got really good down the stretch," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. The last play we were all over the place and didn't let them get a shot off."

Kirk Hinrich scored 18 points and fellow guard D.J. Augustin had 16 for the Bulls (18-20).

Neither team scored after Hinrich's jumper with 2:21 remaining made the score 96-93. Chicago missed its final four attempts, three by Butler.

The final play, which began with 10.4 seconds remaining, was designed for Mike Dunleavy, who hit a game-tying 3-pointer in Wednesday's triple-overtime win vs. the Orlando Magic. The Bulls forward caught the inbounds pass but quickly passed off to Butler.

"On the catch he's got to make a split-second decision," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Is he open to shoot? Or do you try to make the extra pass. I'd like to see the play again. But I thought they had good separation to start the play."

Butler found himself one-on-one with Nene on the right above the arc.

"We were going to try Mike," Butler said. "When he threw the ball to me, I was caught off guard by it. I think everybody was."

The lead changed sides on five straight baskets in the fourth quarter until Gortat's layup put Washington in front for good at 92-91 with 4:28 remaining. Swingman Trevor Ariza followed with a jumper and another Gortat layup extended the lead to 96-91.

The Bulls failed in their attempt to reach .500 for the first time since Nov. 27 when they opened the season 7-7.

The Wizards next chance to post a winning record comes Saturday at home against the Detroit Pistons.

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"I don't want to think about it really," said Wall, who entered the league in 2010. "I just want to get over it."

Washington shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of its three wins, including Wednesday night's win over the Miami Heat. Forward Trevor Booker made all five of his shots from the floor in the first half and scored 12 points.

"We knew they were going to come out and fight," Booker said of the Bulls. "They wanted revenge. We didn't give it to them."

The Wizards shot 52 percent from the field in Monday's 102-88 victory in Chicago.

Neither team ever led by much or for long in the rematch.

Forwards Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson each scored 12 for the Bulls, who are 6-2 in 2014. Both losses came against Washington.

"The first game at Chicago, they were just more of the eager team, you could tell," Gibson said. "Tonight it was a dog fight, two teams going at it. They got the better end of it."

Wall scored 12 points in the first half and his jumper in the final seconds sent Washington into halftime leading 54-50 before a crowd of 17,005.

Chicago opened the largest lead for either team with a 14-2 run spurt in the third quarter. Boozer scored six points in that stretch and his reverse layup gave the Bulls a 70-62 lead with 5:18 left in the quarter.

Washington erased the deficit in the next two minutes with a 10-0 spurt. Wall had a part in all 10 points, including an acrobatic, over-the-shoulder basket while falling down.

"That gave us a 3-point play," Wall said of the highlight score. "We kind of got ourselves going, got ourselves back into the game and came out with a tough win."

NOTES: Bulls F Mike Dunleavy made his sixth straight start. ... Wizards G John Wall entered the game leading all Eastern Conference point guards in assists and double-doubles. ... Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Glen Rice Jr. (right wrist surgery) is getting closer to returning after missing a month, but the rookie swingman has yet to participate in any contact drills. ...The two teams will play for a third time on April 5 in Washington. ... The third game of the Wizards' five-game homestand comes Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls return home to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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