It was no joke Sunday, but the Washington Wizards didn’t find it too funny. That’s because it was the Bulls with an end to end, dominating 113-94 April 1 victory.
The Bulls jumped all over the Wizards early with accurate shooting and adept passing, leading by 15 points late in the first quarter, by a rousing 68-59 at halftime and then even with their irregulars against the Wizards, the Bulls added on in the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead with three minutes left.
The Bulls raised their record to 26-51 with their second straight win, the first winning streak for the Bulls in 10 weeks. Washington fell to 42-35.
The Bulls were led by Lauri Markkanen with 23 points. Bobby Portis had 18 points, Sean Kilpatrick had 14 points, Justin Holiday had 12 points, Jerian Grant had 11 and David Nwaba had 10. The Bulls made 18 of 34 threes and had 30 assists. The Bulls shot 52.4 percent overall and had a 57-35 edge in bench points.
Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn remained out with injuries along with Paul Zipser and Antonio Blakeney. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg missed his first game as head coach with illness. Assistant Jim Boylen took over for this game. Robin Lopez, who perhaps appropriately, was celebrating his birthday on April Fool’s Day started at center along with Justin Holiday starting. Both moved to the bench after the All-Star game. Markkanen started again and was ready, making three of four three pointers in the first quarter that helped the Bulls take a 36-27 lead after going up by 15 earlier in the first. Portis took the three-point baton and made three also as the Bulls hit eight of 11 three in the first quarter and shot 61 percent overall. Holiday added two for 10 first quarter points in a fast paced start. The Wizards began to get back up to open the second quarter with an 8-3 start, penetrating and finding shooters and rollers for scores. Four minutes into the second quarter, Washington had drawn within 45-41. Then Portis and Noah Vonleh assisted one another on successive baskets, sending the Wizards into a timeout and trailing the Bulls 52-41. The Wizards responded, but the Bulls kept up the active motion and offense with a pair of Nwaba drives and Nwaba finding Markkanen o the run for a score. Markkanen added a four point play as the Bulls took a 68-59 halftime lead. Markkanen had 15 points in the first half and Portis 13. The Bulls were 11 of 17 on threes in the half and shooting an impressive 64 percent with 21 assists, five from Nwaba.
The Bulls kept up the spirited play defined by Nwaba, who took a brutal fall on a drive, taken out of the air on a drive and falling hard on his elbow and back. After a referee review, he got up and made the two free throws and then chased down a loose ball on the next possession as the Bulls went back ahead 75-65. The Bulls defensive pressure was vital, trapping and blitzing the Washington picking roll and casting four Wizards turnovers in five possessions. With a Payne three and Marlkkanen finishing strong on a drive left the Bulls took an 85-71 lead. The Bulls cooled in the third quarter, shooting 31.6 percent. But with Washington just 33 percent in the quarter, the Bulls led 87-75 entering the fourth quarter. Each team committed seven turnovers in that unsteady third quarter. With Washington working on the second of a back to back and without John Wall, who just returned from surgery Saturday, the Bulls kept pushing and moved out to a 95-80 lead with 8:02 left on a Jerian Grant steal and three-point play.