Beal scores team-high 23, Wizards lose 115-106 in Chicago

The Wizards (13-27) fell 115-106 to the Chicago Bulls (15-27) Wednesday night at the United Center in the first outing of a two-game road trip. Bradley Beal, in his second game since returning from a five-game absence due to lower right leg soreness, scored a team-high 23 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.

With the Wizards health and depth improving each game, head coach Scott Brooks has a few more lineup options to work with. Wednesday night, Brooks went big, starting Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi side-by-side for the first time ever. Bryant showed flashes playing from the four spot, scoring five early points, including a three in the first minute of the game.

Beal, who was a game-time decision due to shoulder soreness, looked just fine in the early going, scoring 11 of Washington’s first 19 points on 4-5 (.800) from the field. In that first shift, Beal did a little bit of everything – driving, mid-range, hitting from deep and getting to three free throw line – and managed to dish out three assists.

The difference in the first half was 3-point shooting. Both Washington and Chicago shot over 50.0% in the first two quarters, but only the Wizards were able to consistently convert from deep. As a team, the Wizards were 6-11 (.545) from beyond the arc while the Bulls shot just 4-18 (.222). Washington’s starters combined to shoot 6-7 (.857) from three in the first half.

That all changed in the third quarter as the Bulls opened the second half off on a 22-6 run, led by three triples from guard Zach LaVine. LaVine scored nine of his 30 points in the third quarter to help Chicago open up an 11-point lead. The Wizards managed to counter in the final three minutes of the third, led by buckets on consecutive possessions from Isaac Bonga in the final 2:30 of the quarter to cut the lead down to two.

Through three quarters, Davis Bertans had just three points and had hit just 1-5 (.200) from deep, but opened the fourth red hot. Bertans hit his next three 3-pointers, all in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter, to erase a five-point Bulls lead and put the Wizards up 91-87. After a Chicago timeout, Thaddeus Young hit threes on consecutive possession to knot the game at 93 apiece. LaVine checked back into the game with just under seven minutes remaining and spearheaded a 17-5 run that gave Chicago a 113-100 lead the Wizards could not overcome.

“We couldn’t make any shots,” Brooks said. “I think that the start of the third quarter really bothered us. We’re up five, they jumped on us – I think they went up 12-14 then turnovers, weren’t getting back, matching up and some miscommunication.”

The Wizards conclude their two-game trip Friday night in Toronto, taking on the Raptors (26-14) at 7:00 P.M. Washington and Toronto met once already this season, a 122-118 Raptors win on December 20. The Wizards return to D.C. on Monday, hosting the Detroit Pistons (15-27) in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee matchup at 2:00 P.M.


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