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Wizards face Bulls Sunday night in Chicago
The Wizards (20-34) head to Chicago for a matchup with the Bulls (19-38) on Sunday night at 7:00 P.M., looking to bounce back from a loss on Friday night to the Cavaliers. The Bulls will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back after losing to the Suns on Saturday night.
United Center | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Bulls: G – Ryan Arcidiacono, G – Zach LaVine, F – Tomas Satoransky, F – Thaddeus Young, C – Daniel Gafford
Wizards: John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Wizards look to bounce back from cold shooting night
The Wizards had entered the All-Star breaking on a bit of a hot streak, winning five of seven games, but started the second half of the season with a disappointing loss to a struggling Cavaliers team. Washington jumped out to an early lead and led for most of the game, but was unable to make enough shots in the fourth quarter to hold onto the win.
“Down the stretch, they made some shots and we missed some shots,” Ish Smith said after Friday’s game. “Sometimes it’s that simple. Defensively, we played well. I thought they hit some tough shots. I thought they were guarded well, and offensively, we missed some wide-open shots.”
Washington will have a decent opportunity to get their offense back on track Sunday night. The Bulls’ defensive rating in the last five games (119.2) ranks 28th in the league, ahead of only the Spurs and Warriors. When the Wizards and Bulls met just under two weeks ago, Washington scored 126 points as Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura combined for 50.
Bryant back after missing four games
Thomas Bryant, who has missed the final four games of the first half, made his return to action Friday night against the Cavaliers. As planned, he saw limited action as he worked his way back from foot soreness, but made the most of the 16 minutes he was on the court. Bryant scored eight points on 4-7 (.571) shooting and grabbed five rebounds, all of which came on the offensive end. With Bryant, the Wizards’ rotation has bit more energy and flexibility. He has played well in a number of roles this season: off the bench, starting at center and starting at the forward spot. He spent most of his minutes Friday night playing center for smaller Wizards lineups, and finished the game with a plus-one rating. Bryant’s versatility will be crucial for the Wizards’ down the stretch as they take on one of the hardest remaining schedules in the league.
Bulls enter Sunday’s matchup on a slide
The Bulls started the second half of the season with losses to the Hornets and Suns and have now lost eight straight games. Chicago has been outscored by an average of 11.7 points per game in that time. And while their defense has been a weakness as of late, it’s been one of their strong suits over the course of the entire season. To date, the Bulls’ 109.1 defensive rating ranks 14th in the league, while their 27th ranked offensive rating (105.8) has given them problems all season.
Zach LaVine leads the way for Chicago, averaging 25.1 points per game this season – 10.1 more per game than the next-closest Bull (Lauri (Markkanen). LaVine has not shot the ball well since returning from the All-Star break, but scored 41 points against the Wizards in the Bulls’ final game before the All-Star break. He shot 8-11 (.727) from the field, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists. LaVine has developed into one of the league’s streakiest scorers, capable of turning a game around in just a matter of minutes. In that last matchup with Washington, LaVine scored 19 of his 41 points in the final 7:43 of the game.