The Wizards ended 2017 on a high note, with a 114-110 win over the Bulls on Sunday afternoon, in which the team overcame a slow start and a pair of missed free throws in the closing seconds to hold on for their second-straight win.
The Bulls, who had won 10 of their last 12 coming into this game, set the tone early by controlling the glass. They generated second chance opportunities that helped them overcome poor shooting to get out to an early 20-11 lead.
Washington’s starters worked their way back into it, only to see the bench struggle and let the Bulls get out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter. In response, Scott Brooks brought all the starters back in with over 10 minutes left in the second quarter. The team quickly reestablished some rhythm and cut the lead down to six just over a minute later.
Still, the Wizards couldn’t get on the run they needed to assert control of the game. Every time they’d string a few baskets together, the Bulls would respond with a tough shot to stay ahead and keep Fred Hoiberg from burning a timeout to stop the run.
At other points this season, the Wizards would have folded when they couldn’t get the breakthrough they needed, but they stuck it out and eventually pulled ahead late, thanks to a big game from Bradley Beal, who finished with 39 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds while playing all but 3:05 of the game.
As good as Beal was, he caused a moment of panic late when he missed a pair of free throws with the Wizards up by 2 with 19 seconds left. Thankfully for Beal, Kelly Oubre poked away the rebound off the second miss and John Wall was able to corral the loose ball and hit both of his free throws to help Washington seal the victory.
Washington’s Magic Mike lineup shows promise
Scott Brooks went with a rare lineup late in the second quarter that spurred a run to get Washington back in the game. The Wizards’ traditional big men (Gortat, Mahinmi, and Morris) all struggled in the first half, so Brooks put Mike Scott at the five alongside Wall, Beal, Oubre, and Porter.
The unit had only played two minutes together going into this game, but they went on a nice run over the final five minutes of the first half to cut a double-digit deficit down to four points heading into halftime.
Robin Lopez went hard on the glass against the small lineup, but otherwise, it was a big success for Washington. Scott’s shooting kept things wide open offensively, and their switchability helped them create turnovers which led to opportunities in transition which got the team going after a sluggish start.
In the second half, they went back to a similar lineup with Tomas Satoransky filling Kelly Oubre’s spot and the lineup went on another run to help the Wizards get over the hump and take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Rough night for Washington’s fourth options
Markieff Morris had one of his off games. He got in early foul trouble and never found his rhythm as he went 1-of-6 from the field. He did provide value on the glass, finishing with a team-high 11 rebounds, but otherwise just didn’t have it in this one.
Meanwhile, Kelly Oubre shot the ball much better, but was very erratic throughout the game. He committed five fouls in just over 20 minutes and threw one of the worst passes you’ll see this season, which led to a quick benching by Scott Brooks. Thankfully, he redeemed with some clutch plays late, especially the strip after Bradley Beal’s second missed free throw, which helped clinch the win.
- John Wall finished with a season-high four blocks.
- Wall wore Adidas again for the game today, and considering the shoes he wore today haven’t even been released to the public, it seems like a strong sign he’s rejoining the brand.
John Wall wearing the yet-to-release adidas Crazy BYW today pic.twitter.com/pdEofJ6xPD— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) December 31, 2017
- In news that probably will not shock you, Beal is only 19-of-30 from the free throw line in clutch situations, according to NBA.com. While it’s a small sample size, it’s rough to see one of your best shooters shooting 15 percent below their season average at the charity stripe when you need those shots the most.
- After Chicago controlled the glass early, Washington responded and wound up winning the rebounding battle 47-45. It was another example of team rebounding overcoming exceptional individual rebounding. All seven Wizards who played at least 20 minutes had at least four rebounds.
- The Wizards once again dominated the three point line. They went 16-of-36 from deep while the Bulls were just 8-of-35.
Next up: The Wizards are back in action on Wednesday as they host the Knicks at 7 p.m. ET.