1. Bench goes missing, Bulls beat WIzards 99-91
The Wizards should be thanking their lucky stars that their next game is against the New York Knicks. Then again, after two straight losses, who knows how this team will respond against a weak opponent in a nationally-televised game. Washington will need some reassurance that it truly is a contender in the Eastern Conference and with its next two against the Knicks and Boston Celtics, who won't roll over easily for Washington, it'll need victories in both to go into their Western Conference road trip with some confidence. Last night, they were simply outmuscled, outmaneuvered, and outmatched against the Bulls.
Here are the recaps.
2. Wall was good but Derrick Rose was better
Wall tried to will his team during another fourth-quarter rally but everything he did was one-upped by Rose. The Wizards couldn't get over the hump and it looked like the Bulls were about to run away with this one midway through the fourth quarter. Then Wall showed up. But right behind him was Rose, to clean up whatever mess Wall had just created for Chicago.
This sequence captures it all:
With the Wizards trailing by as many as 11, Wall scored 10 of the next 12 points as he put his team back on top 87-86. Rose was helpless when Wall took it up on himself to rejuvenate a stagnant offense by pushing the pace off missed shots. Rose wasn't able to contest him at the rim.
Rose responded. First it was a steal that led to a floater, a pair of free throws, a stepback jumper and an tip-in to give the Bulls breathing room. He scored eight of their 10 points and a 96-89 led with 1:21 left.
3. Are the Wizards for real?
Record-wise, the Wizards are still considered one of the best teams in the East. But they've played one of the easiest schedules so far and only nine of their 28 games have come against teams with winning records. Yet they only have a Plus/Minus rating of +3.3 to show for it. We'll find out soon enough where these Wizards stack up as the season pushes on. The next two weeks will tell a lot.
4. Randy Wittman conserving players effectively
The Wizards are deep. Do they have enough high-quality players? That's another story. But the story so far for this team has been their depth and reliance upon almost every player on the roster. Wittman has shown that he understands this advantage and has been using it wisely in order to preserve players for times of necessity.