USA TODAY Sports
Bless these Wizards.
Everyone was impressed with last night's win over the Bulls, which gave the Wizards their fifth-consecutive home victory and a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Lots more over at our Storystream, plus make sure to check out these postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, Nene, Emeka Okafor and Jordan Crawford.
Defense - the hidden element of a surprising run that has been overshadowed by the return of Wall - was on full display on Saturday night at Verizon Center, where Washington contested and rotated with ferocity and won, 86-73. The Wizards limited the Bulls to a season-low 11 points in the third quarter, 29 points in the second half and held all but one player below double figures in scoring, as they claimed their fifth consecutive victory at home.
"What I can say is that's what kind of potential we have," said Nene, who had a team-high 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. "I remember in the beginning everybody say we suck. Now we start proving a point. Now we start playing our game, have back all our players, and there is our team. Now we going to shut up people's mouth. That's what we're going to do."
With wins over Miami and Oklahoma City the Wizards proved they could beat anyone on any given night. In Friday nights blow out win over a depleted Minnesota squad they won a game they were supposed to win. And after Saturday's 86-73 win over the Chicago Bulls the Wizards have to wonder what if.
"I told our front line, I thought we were as physical tonight as we've really been," said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman after the game. "Delivering blows and rebounding the ball. Every time you play Chicago, you know it's going to be a bloodbath. It's going to be scratch, claw, fight for every point and every rebound there is and it was like that the first game we played them. For us to come out tonight and hold them to 29 in the second half, that is what won the game. We are continuing to move, share the ball, trust in one another from and offensive standpoint and I'm really proud."
The Wizards won this game for two reasons. First, Nene, Okafor, Seraphin, and Booker were a combined 15-31 against the usual stout Chicago inside defense. Second, and most importantly, the Wizards held the Bulls to 40.8% shooting from the field and only 26.7% from three. Combine that with some extra Chicago turnovers and the Wizards holding even in the rebounding battle, you get a quality double digit victory over a solidified playoff contender.
Emeka Okafor: Even though he wouldn't admit it was just him in the locker room after the game, John Wall has really been the one factor for improvement with every single player. For the first part of this season, Okafor's play was frustrating to the point where it even became infuriating. Since Wall's return however, he's been a double-double machine. Tonight was no different.
Both teams were finishing a back-to-back set, although the Wizards played both at home, where they have won five straight. And the Bulls didn't do much grinding - at either end. The Wizards, who average 33.7 points in the paint, had 48.
The Bulls aren't accustomed to this situation.
That alone was unusual for a team that prides itself on being more physical than the opposition. And the Wizards hit first, second and, most important, last.
The Chicago Bulls headed out on the road this evening to take on the Washington Wizards. Dawning the best road record in the league, they underestimated the challenge they'd be facing tonight. Although John Wall's statistic figures aren't otherworldly, sitting at 14 points and 6 assists per game, the Wizards have been 5-3 since his return. He finished with 15 points and 7 assists today.