You can say this about Wednesday night’s contest between Washington and Chicago: Of all the games the Wizards have played this season, it was technically one of them.
Not even Bradley Beal’s wonderful game-tying shot with just over two seconds to play could save the Wizards from themselves in this one, as they fell 126-120 to the Bulls in overtime. Beal led the Wizards with 27 points and a near triple-double on top of his equalizer, but also committed five turnovers and looked listless for most of the game. Jabari Parker added a season-high 28 points and looked great early on, but made some brutal errors down the stretch that sealed the game in Chicago’s favor.
With the loss, Washington has now fallen six games behind the East’s eight-seed in the loss column and dropped into a tie for the seventh-best lottery odds with Memphis and Dallas.
For the Wizards, the entire game was marked by sloppiness and the first quarter was a harbinger of things to come. The Wizards committed four first-quarter turnovers, including a stretch of three consecutive self-induced miscues that was truly horrifying to behold (read from bottom-to-top).
Chicago led 35-28 after the first quarter despite Beal playing all 12 minutes. Careless play on both ends led to the early deficit — the Bulls took eight more field goal attempts in the first quarter than the Wizards because of offensive rebounding and forced turnovers. This would become a theme: Chicago finished the game with 15 offensive rebounds and 13 more shot attempts than the Wizards.
The second quarter gave way to slightly improved shot-making, but apathy persisted among most involved parties. It also contained a moment so poignant, it was as if the basketball gods themselves had sought to deliver a distillation of the entire game in just one minute.
Some March basketball at the bottom of the Eastern conference. pic.twitter.com/Dh31P4MybG— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 21, 2019
The lone bright spot of the second quarter was the offensive work of Jabari Parker, who had another strong game in his return to Chicago. Jabari scored 13 of his 15 first-half points in the second quarter and delighted in his own performance. The Chicago kid finished with a 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting for his best scoring output of the season. Though he faltered late, Jabari also added four rebounds, two assists and two blocks to his statline and was a net-positive on the night.
The third quarter was a significant challenge for Washington, who began the second half without Trevor Ariza (he left with a seemingly minor groin injury). Normally one could expect Beal to pick up the tempo after a rather unobtrusive first half, but the Wizards’ team leader wasn’t anywhere to be found until late in the game.
As for the third, the Bulls’ meager rotation out-hustled and out-fought the Wizards for every loose ball and rebound, turning a tie at halftime into a four-point lead at the end of the third. Washington shot the ball evenly with Chicago in the third, but they continued to shoot themselves in the foot with lackadaiscal defense on noted studs such as Shaq Harrison (18 points) and Cristiano Felicio (15 points, 6 rebounds). Even woeful scorer Kris Dunn managed 26 points, including two back-breaking threes in the eventual overtime.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as the Wizards and Bulls took turns trying to out-do one another’s best efforts to lose the basketball game. A back-and-forth affair gave way to a tragic comedy in the game’s final minute, though. After a couple of spectacular plays by Tomas Satoransky to drag the Wizards back from the brink, Beal worked through a number of difficult moments to hit a game-tying jumper in the final moments.
Beal is clutch. Ties it with 2.4 to go. Lets see what Boylen draws up. pic.twitter.com/Xr3IbngF29— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) March 21, 2019
It all came down to the Bulls’ final possession with 2.4 seconds remaining... for which Jim Boylen drew up a four-second play.
113-113 with 2.4 seconds left and the Bulls do... this pic.twitter.com/9qFXrhDNqK— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) March 21, 2019
In overtime, the Bulls finally lost (er, won?) the tanktastic battle due to some timely shot-making from Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, who finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists on the night. The last few weeks have contained several omens that the meaningful portion of the Wizards’ season was coming to an end, but this loss may very well have been the final nail in the coffin.
Jim Boylen Played the Best Defense of the Night
It’s quite clear from his young tenure in Chicago that Jim Boylen is willing to do anything to get a W — the man is basically a walking hustle cliche. But it was still somewhat surprising to see, or more accurately hear, him chip in on the defensive end during Wednesday’s game.
Jeff Green was wide open for 3. Before he shot, Boylen yelled out "JEFF!" so loud that the broadcast picked it up. Green missed. pic.twitter.com/o8nTZu5taC— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 21, 2019
Here's Boylen shouting at Portis before he lets go of the ball pic.twitter.com/QC42CDU58G— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 21, 2019
Great work by the Bulls’ real sixth man.
Next Up: The Wizards (30-42) will fly home to take on the Nuggets (47-22) at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.