Seven Wizards players scored in double figures tonight led, as usual, by Bradley Beal who dropped 30 points as the Wizards beat the Bulls, 126-114. Zach LaVine was on fire tonight as he scored a game-high 41 points including knocking down 8-of-11 three-point attempts but it wasn’t enough and the Wizards hung on the for the victory.
The Wizards led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter and it looked like they might cruise to an easy victory. But 1-of-9 shooting from the floor the start the fourth quarter allowed Chicago to climb back in this one. The Bulls got as close as six late in the fourth quarter but it was Beal who hit a clutch three-pointer from the corner to put the game away.
Battle of the All-Star Snubs
Both Beal and LaVine had good arguments in favor of them being in this weekend’s All-Star Game, but neither guy made the cut. Instead, they let their play do the talking tonight.
Beal was in attack mode from the get-go in this one. He didn’t settle for jumpers and spent most of the first half slicing through the lane to get easy buckets at the rim en route to 16 points by intermission, including this pull up from the free-throw line to beat the halftime buzzer.
Like the Bulls, the Wizards weren’t providing much resistance in the painted area in the first half as LaVine too was able to get to the hole with ease. Washington had issues on the defensive glass resulting in 8 first half offensive rebounds for Chicago. LaVine made them pay by knocking down two-three pointers on second chances en route to 17 first half points.
Beal and LaVine never guarded each other through the first three quarters but once the fourth quarter started, they both had the look of going mano a mano. LaVine may have won the individual battle in the fourth quarter, knocking down one tough three after another to keep Chicago close.
Beal, who started to settle for outside jumpers just a tad too much re-entered attack mode to get himself going again and hit the game sealing shot from the corner giving him 30 points for the game and putting this one on ice.
Washington’s front court turns in an outstanding performance
Both Ian Mahinmi and Rui Hachimura were outstanding tonight for the Wizards. The duo combined for 35 points on 14-22 shooting against the shorthanded Bulls.
Hachimura did most of his damage in the painted area whether it was a putback dunk or a floater in the lane. The rookie also played well on the defensive ended with two blocks and two steals leading to fast break opportunities on the offensive end.
Mahinmi was quiet in the first half but had a mini explosion in the third quarter where he scored 12 of his 15 points. The main thing for Mahinmi was that tonight, he was finishing all of the bunnies around the rim and did it on an effective 7-10 shooting.
This game matters in the standings. Seriously.
The Wizards and Bulls came into this game in the 9th and 10th spots in the Eastern Conference. After losing the previous two contests against Chicago, Washington finally got in the win column in their third matchup this season between the two teams.
With the win, the Wizards are just three games out of the 8-seed and 6-5 in their past 11 games with a trip to New York looming. After the All-Star break, the Wizards kick things off against the Cleveland Cavaliers and then play this Chicago team. Going 2-1 or even 3-0 over that stretch could have Washington sniffing the postseason. But then again, if Washington trips up and drops a few of these games, the Wizards could just as easily fall to the bottom of the barrel in the Eastern Conference.
Ish Smith swatted a guy nearly a foot taller than him. Don’t believe me?
Ish Smith with the block?— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 12, 2020
ISH SMITH WITH THE BLOCK pic.twitter.com/tPfw8KhyIL
Up Next: Washington heads to New York to take on the Knicks in their final game before the All-Star break.