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Wizards fall just short at home, lose 115-114 to Bulls
The season’s winding down for the Wizards, and the minutes for starters are starting to wane. An important time for evaluation of younger players is underway, but Washington unfortunately didn’t have enough Wednesday night at home to top the Bulls, losing 115-114.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points in 22 minutes before sitting out most of the second half, while the two starting big men in Bobby Portis (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Thomas Bryant (20 points, 14 rebounds) led the was for the Wizards. Jordan McRae and Sam Dekker added 14 points, and Jabari Parker left the game early with a left knee sprain.
“I think we’ve played really well together," said Portis of starting alongside Thomas Bryant. "He has a big presence. He’s a big time, high energy, high motor guy and I am as well. Having two of those guys on the court, I think that it helps us out tremendously. He’s a good rebounder just like me. Sometimes that kinda gets in the way of both of us because we are both greedy on the boards.”
On the night, the Bulls simply hit a few more shots down the stretch. They were also without their core, with Wendell Carter Jr., Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Denzel Valentine out Wednesday with either injuries or rest. In their place, Chicago had seven reach double-figures, with Walter Lemon Jr.’s 24 points and eight assists leading the way. JaKarr Sampson’s 18 points off the bench led the second unit.
Neither team gained a double-digit lead all night, with 16 lead changes and 12 different ties throughout the game. Still, Washington took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter thanks in large part to a 13-point third frame from Portis. The Wizards led by as many as nine in the frame after neither team had led by more than five in the first half. Chicago was efficient all night from the field, shooting 53.3%, but cooled off in the third just long enough to give the Wizards an edge.
Still, the fourth belonged to Chicago as Lemon, Sampson, and Shaquille Harrison (seven of his 15 points came in the final 12 minutes) helped the Bulls outscore Washington by five down the stretch. In the final 1:45, the game was tied three times. Chasson Randle hit a pair of free throws with 12.7 seconds remaining to give the Wizards a one-point lead, but then fouled a driving Lemon on the other end with just 1.8 seconds remaining. Lemon hit both free throws to ice the game, with McRae’s 3-point heave at the buzzer falling just short.
“Tonight wasn't about effort," said head coach Scott Brooks. "We competed well. It's just we got to--guys are playing minutes that we have to make decisions on. These are great opportunities for them to step up. We can score the ball. We've been a great offensive team all year, and we have a lot of really good offensive players that are missing. But defensively we need to find guys that are really going to get better on the defensive end. It's not about scoring with us. We can score. We can score and we pass the ball well. We had 24 assists, and we didn't even make a three.”
Washington will play one more game at home on Friday against the Spurs before its final road trip of the season later this weekend. Tipoff against San Antonio is set for 7:00 P.M. ET.