The Washington Wizards snapped a two game skid tonight as they beat the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, 102-88. This was a balanced attack in which six Wizards scored in double figures, largely due to good ball movement.
This one came down to a battle between Chicago's veteran moxey and toughness and Washington's ability to execute their offense and not make dumb mistakes on defense. For the most part, Washington did a good job of playing the right way and sticking to their strengths tonight. Chicago has some great role players but, without anyone to set them up for easy buckets, they're just not that good.
Wall was great tonight. Kirk Hinrich is still a good defender and he was almost completely helpless against him. No one on the Bulls could stay in front of him and, were it not for Noah and Gibson's ability to protect the rim, he probably would have gone for 30 or more tonight. As it is, he finished with 18 points and made it look easy despite having the second best defense in the NBA keyed in on him all night. Dude is just a beast right now.
The Wizards led for most of the game and it only got interesting about halfway through the fourth quarter when Chicago made a mini run and got the lead down to single digits. Beal hit a few jumpers and Wall and Nene did their thing, though, and the Wizards led by ten or more from the 3:30 mark in the fourth quarter to the end of the game.
Washington improved to 17-19 on the year and their next game is Wednesday against the Hea-- you know what, never mind what's next, let's just savor this one.
- I don't know if the spirit of Ben Gordon is haunting the United Center or what but Washington was straight up raining jumpers in the first quarter. Chicago's defensive schemes are designed to encourage this and Washington managed to make them pay again and again. It's not smart basketball, but when the shots are falling, it's surprisingly fun to watch.
- Cartier Martin is on the Bulls and I for one had no idea until tonight (he'd been with Atlanta earlier in the season and the coach had actually spoken about how much he liked having him on the team). He looked good and did his typical Cartier Martin thing, shooting threes and trying really hard. It's not directly related to anything he did tonight, but I came across this picture while doing a little Googling and thought it would be worth sharing.
- Washington got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 36-21 lead at one point. This wasn't a result of good play so much as a lot of long twos going in and competent defense on a Chicago team that just can't create anything off the dribble. The Bulls move the ball and everyone in their starting lineup is a solid passer, they just can't get open shots when the Wizards' defense never has to get out of position in order to help on anyone. Wall was brilliant from the get go and Ariza was all over the place playing the passing lanes. Nene also got the start over Booker which probably helped Washington's performance at the start of the game.
- Washington had 17 assists on 23 made shots in the first half which is a phenomenal rate and a testament to the team's ball movement. Chicago's defense makes it very difficult for players to go one on one or even run a pick and roll and wind up with an easy look. It was encouraging to see Wall and Co. take what the defense gave them and not force the issue as they've been wont to do lately.
- The rotation was weirdly short tonight. Despite how well they've been playing lately, neither Seraphin and Vesely were nowhere to be seen tonight, as Wittman went with an eight man rotation of Wall, Beal, Webster, Temple, Ariza, Nene, Gortat and Booker. It makes sense when you really think about it since no one other than Ariza played an crazy number of minutes and all of these guys complement each other fairly well, it's just a bit disheartening to see two of Washington's last three lottery picks rack of DNP-CDs.