Washington 97, Chicago 91

CHICAGO, Feb. 29 (AP) -- One Washington player was ejected and others hung their heads, sulking.

Then the Wizards sprung to life and perhaps sucked away whatever the Chicago Bulls had left.

Antawn Jamison, Roger Mason and Andray Blatche each scored 17 points, and the struggling Wizards used a third-quarter surge to overcome an 18-point deficit and beat Chicago 97-91 on Friday night.

"We could have easily been negative and tried to do everything on our own," Jamison said. "But we stayed within a team concept and were fortunate enough to put things together on both ends of the floor."

The change was drastic.

The Wizards started the third on a 22-1 run and outscored the Bulls 35-14 in the period to turn a 52-34 deficit into a 69-66 lead, a quick and stunning turnaround for a team that shot just 27.9 percent in the first half. Washington then pulled away late in the fourth to win for just the fourth time in 15 games.

Joakim Noah hit two free throws to give the Bulls an 84-83 lead with 3:35 left, before Washington scored six straight. Brendan Haywood's dunk with just over two minutes remaining capping the spurt.

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich then hit a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game, but two free throws by Jamison and a floater by Antonio Daniels made it 93-87 with 1:14 remaining.

Andres Nocioni's 3-pointer pulled Chicago to 93-91 with 39 seconds left, but a lucky bounce on the Wizards' ensuing possession clinched the win for Washington. After a timeout, Darius Songaila got stripped on the wing. But Jamison recovered the loose ball near the basket, laid it in and converted the free throw after being fouled by Drew Gooden to make it 96-91 with 27 seconds left.

"This is one of those wins that really feels good because it's a character win," said Daniels, who scored 16 points. "It's easy to just kind of fold." Instead, they dealt a demoralizing loss to the Bulls, who got 19 points from Nocioni and 18 from Luol Deng.

"We embarrassed the organization and the city of Chicago tonight," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "I apologize for that."

Hinrich added: "Somewhere along the line, we've lost our defensive edge."

The Wizards looked like a team that was desperately missing injured All-Star Caron Butler, not to mention Gilbert Arenas, until the third quarter.

They were coming off one of their worst offensive performances in a 94-69 loss to a Houston team that was missing the injured Yao Ming, and it was more of the same in the first half. They missed jumpers and layups. Free throws, too. DeShawn Stevenson had words with a ref and got ejected with 59.1 seconds left in the second quarter.

But everything changed in the second half.

Suddenly, a team that seemed headed toward a blowout loss was leading 56-53 with 5:11 left in the quarter after Jamison's tip-in and Mason's 22-footer capped that 22-1 run. With boos cascading from the stands, the Bulls finally got a basket when Nocioni buried an 18-foot jumper, and they immediately regained the lead on Deng's steal and layup.

Jamison scored 11 points in the second half, after hitting just one of 10 shots through the first two quarters, and finished with 15 rebounds. Songaila scored 14.

The Bulls got 16 points each from Hinrich and Larry Hughes, making his home debut along with Gooden after being acquired from Cleveland in the Ben Wallace deal. But Ben Gordon finished with six points.

Notes: Butler missed his 11th game with a small labral tear of the left hip joint. ... Nocioni said the NBA did the right thing by giving Indiana F Danny Granger a one-game suspension for hitting him in the face during Wednesday's 113-107 win. "For me, it's right because he tried to hurt me," Nocioni said. "He punched me with the elbow. I wasn't doing [anything], just playing defense. That's it. I don't know why he hit me in the face. We didn't have any problems before [that] game." ... The Bulls will autograph the Northern Illinois T-shirts they wore during two games last week and donate them to the NIU Foundation's scholarship fund honoring the victims of the campus shootings on Feb. 14.

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