Bulls fall to Wizards in hard-fought battle, 101-99

The Bulls Tuesday battled with three main players out, ran up an 18-point lead and then lost 101-99 to the Washington Wizards on a John Wall jumper with five seconds left.

With the game tied in the last minute, the Bulls exchanged isolation plays with John Wall making a jumper and Michael Carter-Williams missing. Doug McDermott then missed a three with a chance to win with a second left. It ended in a jump ball with eight tenths of a second left and the end of the game.

The Bulls were led by Denzel Valentine with 19 points. Robin Lopez and Carter-Williams had 14 with six Bulls scoring in double figures. Rajon Rondo back in the lineup had 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. Bobby Portis had 13 points and Taj Gibson 10 points and 12 rebounds. Wall had 26 points for Washington.

The Bulls fell to 19-20. The Wizards are 19-18.

The Bulls were without Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic, both ill, and Dwyane Wade with a scheduled rest night for the second of a back to back. The Bulls thus started Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant in the backcourt and Doug McDermott. Rajon Rondo was first off the bench along with Denzel Valentine back from and ankle injury, and that reserve group of the reserves propelled the Bulls to a 36-26 lead after the first quarter. Rondo pushed the ball with alacrity and had six first quarter points as he and Valentine entered with the team trailing 17-12. Rondo set up Taj Gibson for just the just the second three of his career and two for Bobby Portis. Rondo stayed in to open the second quarter as the Bulls raced ahead of the stunned Wizards to take a 47-37 lead when Rondo departed with 5:34 left in the first half. The Bulls pushed their lead to 61-43 on Valentine’s shooting. But with John Wall pushing the ball, the Wizards got within 61-49 at halftime. Valentine had 14 points and Lopez 10 at halftime.

The Wizards behind the shooting of Bradley Beal came back after halftime, quickly cutting the Bulls lead to 65-60 about four minutes into the third quarter. The Bulls eased out again by double digits with Gibson’s strong work on the offensive boards. But Beal again led Washington back within 75-72 with 2:49 left in the third quarter as the Bulls shooting cooled. The Wizards continued to pile it on, leading 81-77 entering the fourth quarter as Beal and Wall combined for 18 third quarter points. The Bulls had 16 points in the quarter. The Bulls even without more than 50 points from three of their top five scorers fought back into the game, going ahead 84-83 with 9:22 left on a Valentine driving hook. That came after Portis following in a Valentine behind the back pass on the break to Carter-Williams that initially was blocked. A Valentine three with a little dance gave the Bulls a 92-85 lead with 7:35 left. The Bulls missed a pair of open shots as Washington came back within 92-91 with 5:44 left. The game teetered back and forth with Gibson making it 95-95 with two minutes left on an offensive rebound and three-point play and Lopez’ two free throws giving the Bulls a 99-97 lead with 57.6 seconds left. Wall tied it with a jumper with 47.4 seconds left.