WASHINGTON, DC -  DECEMBER 28: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls on December 28, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
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Shorthanded Wizards fall short of Bulls, 101-92

Injuries have piled up lately for the Wizards, and on Friday night they added up to a tall task to overcome against the now-healthy Bulls. Bradley Beal did his best to shoulder the load, scoring 34 points in the absence of John Wall, Otto Porter Jr., and Markieff Morris, but it wasn’t enough to edge Chicago. Zach LaVine’s 24 points led six double-figure scorers as the young Bulls finished strong to earn a 101-92 victory.

Both teams struggled mightily offensively in the first half, shooting under 35% from the field. The picture was even bleaker from 3-point range, where the Bulls were 1-for-11 at the break and the Wizards were just 4-for-16. At halftime, Washington held a 42-40 lead.

In the third quarter, LaVine started to find his rhythm, and he brought the rest of his team along for the ride. A 15-2 Chicago run early in the quarter was the turning point in the game, turning the Wizards’ biggest lead of seven into a six-point deficit. Wendell Carter Jr. (17 points, 13 rebounds on the night) and Lauri Markkanen (14 points, 14 rebounds) contributed heavily on the Bulls’ outburst. “Zach [LaVine] went on a little run,” said Bradley Beal. “He went on a little run and got hot. I think they all did and made a lot of tough shots, a lot of tough contested ones. But, you know, this is the type of team that is a young, athletic team that loves to play fast, get after it, physical, and they brought it to us in the third and kinda put us back on our heels a little bit.”

While the Wizards improved dramatically after halftime, shooting 57.9% from the field and hitting four 3-pointers in the third, Chicago was even better. The Bulls hit six 3-pointers in the frame and shot 70% from the field to take a two-point lead into the final 12 minutes. "They made a few more shots than us,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “We could not find a bucket, a key bucket. We missed a lot of good-looking threes. Guys played hard, no complaints there. We just couldn't find any shots that fall consistently for us in the first half and even in the fourth quarter. Our guys played hard, put them on the free-throw line a lot more than us."

LaVine and Robin Lopez (10 points off the bench) engineered another important period for Chicago early in the fourth quarter. A 10-4 run highlighted by three Lopez hook shots gave the Bulls their biggest lead of the night at the time, up nine with about 5:30 left to play. And while Beal and Thomas Bryant (12 points, eight rebounds Friday) gave a valiant effort down the stretch, the Chicago lead eventually got to 10 with just over two minutes to play. The Wizards chiseled the lead down to five with 55.7 seconds remaining, but LaVine poured in five more points in the closing 33 seconds to put the game on ice.

Night two of a back-to-back in D.C. is next for the Wizards on Saturday night against Charlotte. Tipoff against the Hornets is set for 7:00 P.M. ET.