Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls
Shorthanded Bulls beat Wizards 109-104
Bulls team effort delivers perhaps most impressive victory of the season
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By Sam Smith | 2.24.2016 | 9:30 p.m.
The Bulls Wednesday delivered perhaps their most unlikely and an impressive victory, 109-104 over the Washington Wizards.
It came with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler out injured and big baskets down the stretch from E’Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott to hold off a Wizards team that pulled within three early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls had seven players in double figures led by Moore and Taj Gibson, both with 17 points. Pau Gasol had 10 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists and McDermott had 14 points and a clinching, tough baseline fadeaway late in the game.
The Bulls moved to 30-26 with their third straight win. The Wizards are 26-30.
The Bulls got some bad news to start as Rose wasn’t able to go with a recurrence to hamstring and knee issues. He joined Butler and Nikola Mirortic sitting out. But Gasol, who had the flu, was able to play. So the Bulls started Moore and Tony Snell in the backcourt, and Snell got off to a good offensive start with eight first quarter points as the Bulls trailed 31-28 after one quarter. The Bulls got some good high/low action going with Gasol passing inside to Gibson, and newcomer Justin Holiday made his first shot attempt a three. Gasol also beat all the Wizards downcourt for a fastbreak layup on a 60 foot pass from Aaron Brooks. But Washington got aggressive play off the bench from Ramon Sessions with John Wall in early foul trouble to finish the first quarter on a 9-2 run.
The Bulls ran ahead to start the second quarter highlighted by a neat pick and roll slam dunk from Holiday to Cristiano Felicio for a 35-34 Bulls lead. But the Bulls youngsters began reverting to isolation play that enabled the Wizards to take a 43-37 lead before coach Fred Hoiberg returned the starters. The Bulls continued to get Gibson in the mismatches with the Wizards mostly failing to counter as Gibson had 17 in the first half, nine off his career high. His play with some fancy late second quarter ballhandling from Aaron Brooks enabled the Bulls to take a 57-55 halftime lead.
The Bulls pushed the ball effectively to start the third quarter with Snell, Moore and then Mike Dunleavy settling into three pointers before the Wizards had a chance to set their defense. That run sent the Wizards into a timeout with 7:34 left in the third and the Bulls leading 74-62. Though the quarter highlight was Doug McDermott getting a step on a baseline drive from the left side and then dunking over the closing Markieff Morris for an 83-68 Bulls lead. Bradley Beal came back with a pair of scores before Portis closed the quarter with a short follow of a Brooks miss for an 89-79 Bulls lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls lost the momentum to start the fourth quarter with isolation play and lazy passing as Washington pulled within 91-88 with 8:37 left in the game. The starters, at least for this game, returned and a Moore runner gave the Bulls some renewed vigor and a 97-92 lead with just under six minutes left. Then McDermott’s second big power dunk of the game gave the Bulls a 101-92 lead with 4:46 left.