The Washington Wizards crushed the Chicago Bulls, 86-73, in front of loud Verizon Center crowd. Much like the previous night's lopsided win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington led for much of the game, largely due to the playmaking and hustle of John Wall and Nene Hilario. Unlike the struggling Timberwolves, though, Chicago was a strong opponent that came into the night with a 26-16 record.
Washington and Wall in particular deserve a lot of credit for this win. Everyone other than Bradley Beal, who seemed to struggle when matched up against Richard Hamilton's unique mix of length and conditioning, played well. The team as a whole did an excellent job of playing smart, energetic defense against Chicago's gritty big men.
- The Wizards looked very sharp early on as they jumped out to a quick 6-3 lead before Chicago called timeout. Everyone made hard cuts and Wall looked great causing turnovers on the defensive end and then leading the break.
- Beal and Hamilton is going to be an interesting matchup. Rip seems to be getting the better of Beal early on, using his length and motor to bother Beal's jump shot and prevent him from getting open.
- Booker got credit for the two points, but Noah had an own-goal late in the first quarter.
- Washington's offense completely falls apart when neither Wall nor Nene are on the floor. Ariza and Seraphin have been taking a lot of shots early in the second quarter. Booker and Seraphin are both doing a terrible job of keeping Noah and Gibson off the glass. The result is a Bulls run that puts them up 36-35 before Wall comes back in, although their lead would be larger if Washington hadn't made a couple of fluke-y shots.
- Seeing 6'4 John Wall guard 5'8 Nate Robinson is fascinating. Wall, unfortunately, can't stay in front of him at all, although he gets payback by burning him with a crossover at the end of the half. Washington still manages to push ahead of Chicago, 44-40 with 2:50 left in the first half, on the strength of balanced scoring and five dimes from Wall.
- Wall has been a little out of control tonight. Committing two turnovers in a row as well as a bad pass that Nene almost lost.
- Washington is ahead at the half, 50-44, after a nice run led by Wall and Nene. Washington has looked good for the most part, at least when the starters have been in. Chicago has had trouble establishing an offensive rhythm and dealing with Washington's speed and athleticism, especially in the backcourt.
- Lots of intensity from Washington to start the third as Washington jumps out to a ten point lead. Everyone, especially Martell Webster, is playing very hard and crashing the glass. The lead grows to 14 points, 60-46, after an Okafor hook shot. Wittman must have really lit a fire under these guys during halftime.
- Okafor took a hard shot to the eye from Boozer toward the middle of the third period. Boozer was given a flagrant one and Okafor made one of the two freebies, pushing the lead to 65-51. Not long after he fouled Okafor again and they had to be separated by their teammates.
- Marco Bellineli and Rocky have never been seen in the same place.
- Great defense by the Wizards all throughout the second half. Chicago scored 11 points in the third quarter. Their entire offense has been thrown off by Washington's ability to stick with them on the perimeter and avoid mistakes - there haven't been that many turnovers, but there have been a ton of rushed Chicago shots and 24 second violations.
- Washington's offense has done a great job of getting to the basket. They had 42 points in the paint by the end of the third quarter. What makes this even more impressive is that they're averaging 34 on the year and Chicago's long frontcourt, especially when Gibson plays next to Noah, specializes and taking those looks away from teams.
- Chicago started to get it together in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 10. The Wizards stopped hustling, the Bulls started, and Washington's lead shrunk, simple as that. Things started to turn around once Wall and Nene came in. My guess is that the Robinson/Wall matchup is going to determine whether or not Chicago gets back in this thing.
- Chicago tries to quicken the pace of the game with an aggressive pressure defense. Washington and Wall in particular deserves credit for not caving and calmly running their offense. A pair of Okafor free throws push Washington's lead to 85-71 with under two minutes left in the game.