Keys to the Game: Bulls at Washington (01.10.17)
With a 10th consecutive home victory on Tuesday, they finally would have a winning record. That task might not be as difficult as expected because the Chicago Bulls will arrive in Washington short-handed.
Jimmy Butler is not expected to travel with the Bulls, who lost 109-94 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Butler missed all six of his field-goal attempts and scored one point in 28 points before being pulled with an illness.
"Obviously, we appreciate him going out and giving it a shot," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "It says a lot about him as a competitor, but he was obviously really struggling, and they sent him home after we took him out in the third quarter."
In addition, the Bulls are giving Dwyane Wade rest in back-to-back scenarios, so the veteran guard will be on the sideline Tuesday, too.
Wade led Chicago (19-19) with 22 points in the Monday loss.
"Tonight with Jimmy being under the weather, we didn't get enough offensive firepower from everyone on our team," Wade said. "It's hard to beat a team like that when you don't have enough firepower."
The teams split their first two meetings this season, both played in Chicago. Butler scored 37 in the Bulls' 106-95 victory on Nov. 12, and Washington won 107-97 on Dec. 21 as John Wall scored 23 points.
No Butler means a second straight game for the Wizards (18-18) against an opponent playing without its best player.
Washington returns home after a 107-101 win Sunday at Milwaukee, which was without Giannis Antetokounmpo (illness). Bradley Beal scored 26 points, Markieff Morris had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Wall added 16 points.
Despite the Bucks playing without Antetokounmpo, the Wizards trailed 57-49 at halftime before outscoring Milwaukee 33-21 in the third quarter.
"They came out, and give them credit, they played with more intensity early on," Wall said. "We were into the game until I had like four turnovers in a row in the first quarter and they hit like seven threes in the first half. ... We just came out and didn't turn the ball over so much in the second half, and that's why I think we won the game."
Receiving quality contribution from Kelly Oubre Jr. helped as well. The second-year forward sank three 3-pointers and scored 17 points. however, it was his work on the other end of the court that excited coach Scott Brooks.
Oubre, 21, has the needed length to turn into a defensive stopper, but he struggles with consistency. His recent signs of progress are good news for a Washington team that hasn't had much worth celebrating outside of it starting five. The Wizards often pair Oubre at forward with Otto Porter, who has developed into a spot stretch-4 option.
"We had some conversations in the last few days about just making it happen on the defensive end," Brooks said of Oubre. "Don't have this game plan that you're going to come in and score a bunch of points. Come in and affect the game, impact the game defensively and the offense always gets rewarded. That's what he has been doing."
The Wizards were 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2015. They subsequently reached .500 several times since, including earlier this month at 16-16, at which point they promptly lost two straight.
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