The Bulls Wednesday lost an early 13-point lead and disappeared down the stretch in a 107-97 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls fell back to .500 at 14-14 and now leave on a two-game Christmas trip to Charlotte and Christmas Day in San Antonio, three games in four nights. The Wizards moved up to 13-15 after a 2-8 start to the season. The Bulls fell to 8-6 at home and have lost seven of 10. There were 17 lead changes and 11 ties as the Wizards pulled away from a tie game with nine minutes remaining.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 19 points. Taj Gibson had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic had 11 and Doug McDermott 10.
Gibson with another hot start, making his first four shots, enabled the Bulls to take a 19-16 lead before the first substitutions. That gave Gibson 12 straight makes over two games. Mirotic and McDermott entered and kept up their improved play, splitting a pair of baskets for a 24-16 Bulls lead with 2:56 in the first. The Bulls then began to push the pace more behind Butler and led 33-22 after one quarter with a solid nine points off the bench. The Bulls shot 62.5 percent with a dominating 11-0 on second chance points.
The Bulls pushed their lead out to 43-30 five minutes into the second quarter with Mirotic on the boards and Cristiano Felicion finishing a second slam dunk. But Washington got out running with some Bulls miscues and long rebounds to get back within 43-38 midway through the quarter. The Bulls recovered with Gibson making a 13th straight shot and a pair of drives from Wade. But the Wizards took off on some missed jump shots for fast breaks and surged into the lead with a minute left in the half. The Bulls led 56-55 at halftime with 15 from Wade and 12 from Butler.
The Bulls tried again to over overpower the Wizards with Gibson and Robin Lopez to open the second half, Gibson with a big block on a Sheldon McClellan face up drive. But when they missed John Wall again took off with he and Bradley Beal blazing a path to easy baskets that enabled the Wizards to take a 71-66 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter. The Bulls got threes from Mirotic and McDermott to take a 75-73 lead with under two minutes remaining in the third. It was tied at 77 entering the fourth quarter. Washington had 24 fast break points through three quarters and 32 for the game. The teams continued to exchange impressive shots to start the fourth, Jerian Grant with a pair of driving scores and Marcus Thornton with long jumpers. It was tied at 85 with 8:30 left. But the Wizards then ran off six straight with a pair of Bulls turnovers, the Bulls 12th and 13th for 19 Wizards points. With just under three minutes left the Bulls got back within 97-93 on a Wade post spin move for a score. The Bulls shot 32 percent after halftime.