Coming into this game, much of the focus was on the backcourt match-up between John Wall and Derrick Rose. Wall was 0-5 against the former MVP, and had to watch Rose skip back to the bench en route to a victory during their last meeting on December 23rd. This time around, John and the Wizards made sure they started hot and stayed hot. In the first half, The Bulls starters had absolutely no answer for the Wizards. Washington outscored the Bulls 8-24 to open the game, with Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler looking completely ineffective. Surprisingly, the Bulls bench led by Aaron Brooks and E'Twaun Moore were able to keep Chicago from fading completely out of contention. The reserve's play was so strong that Tom Thibodeau kept Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler on the bench until there was only 4:16 left in the half. After Rose and Butler came back in, the Wizards lead ballooned from 8 points to 17 points to go into the half.
In the second half the Wizards were greeted with a suddenly competent Bulls starting unit who managed to stay in striking distance for a majority of the game. Chicago got within ten points of Washington four times during the course of this half, but every time the Wizards responded with a run of their own to pull away. The most emphatic of which was Rasual Butler making back-to-back contested threes in Jimmy Butler's face to put a stop to a scary Bulls run late in the third. It was only fitting that the Wizards would close out the game with an 8-point run after letting the Bulls creep back into the game once again.
John Wall vs. Derrick Rose
Wall struggled to get things going early despite the rest of his team playing well in the 1st quarter. He had a hard time finding open looks and continuously came up short on a couple shots. Luckily for Wall, Derrick Rose also struggled mightily in the 1st. In the second quarter and beyond, John settled into a groove and played one of his stronger games of the season. Wall kept the offense humming all night and racked up 12 assists (a majority of which were to Beal) compared to just 2 for Rose. Rose just barely scored more than Wall (19 to John's 16) but Wall played significantly better defensively and even had one less turnover than Derrick (4 to 3.) John just straight-up out-played Rose tonight.
Then John Wall got a little bit of revenge:
Bradley Beal vs. Jimmy Butler
This battle should have been just as interesting to watch as the Wall/Rose match-up. Unfortunately, Butler just didn't show up to play tonight. About mid-way through the 3rd quarter Jimmy had only scored one point and hadn't really been an impact on the game. He woke up for the 4th and managed to finish with 10 points but shot 16% from the field to get there, yikes.
Beal was shaky during certain parts of this game but managed to end up with 17 points, 3 steals, and 4 dimes. Shooting 44%, it's safe to say that Beal once again got the best of Jimmy Butler. Also, Bradley Beal was kind of enough to provide the dagger in tonight's game.
Nene and Gortat were dominant
Taking on Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol is a tall task for most frontcourt duos in this league, but Nene and Gortat outplayed them and it wasn't even that close. Gortat might have had the quietest 21 point, 13 rebound game in the history of the NBA. At no point did he take over the game, but he consistently contributed and played decent defense as well. Nene had a couple of beautiful low-post plays that were definitely highlight reel worthy, but his dominance of Joakim Noah was something to behold. The videos below show you everything you need to know.
EPIC STARE DOWN:
Joakim got a tech for this after Nene stripped the ball out of his hands: