The news of Andray Blatche’s month-long absence came at a particularly inconvenient time for the Wizards. The Chicago Bulls, coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat, were in town looking to take out some frustration.
Despite making a run down the stretch, when the Bulls looked like they were feeling the effects of an emotional back-to-back, the Wizards eventually fell to Eastern Conference leaders, 98-88.
Rose made Swiss cheese of the Wizards defense early, getting to the basket at will and scoring 13 first quarter points.
John Wall did the same for Washington, though he didn’t make it look nearly as easy. He banked in three contested jumpers from the lane, all of them high degree of difficulty, while trying his hand as the Wizards primary scoring option midway through the quarter.
As has been the problem all season, when the Wizards weren’t pushing the ball in transition they had trouble getting offense. They scored 10 points in the game’s first 9:30, alternating between turnovers and missed jumpers.
The Wizards offensive system showed signs of life when Wall went to the bench and there was no clear cut scorer on offense. With Shelvin Mack and Jordan Crawford sharing the point, the team was able to get open jumpers. The reserves six quick points minimized the first quarter deficit, 26-16.
The Wizards continued their inspired play in the second quarter, eventually closing the gap to 36-30 on Wall’s transition layup. But Kyle Korver’s three point shooting (4-for-8 in the half) allowed the Bulls to take a double digit lead into the locker room, 51-40.
Rose and Korver would give the Bulls breathing room in the third.
When Rose wasn’t finding a seam, Korver had open shots from deep. If Rose couldn’t convert from short range, Joakim Noah was there for the follow.
Rose, however, made most of them. He used his trademark running floater to breakdown the Wizards defense in the lane. He made a three pointer late in the third for his 31st point, and the Bulls took a 75-55 lead.
The Wizards didn’t roll over, with Nick Young and Trevor Booker helping match Chicago point for point, eventually cutting the lead to 92-82 with 3:14 left. But the Wiz didn’t break their double-digit advantage until a Wall slam with 1:15 left made it 96-88.
The only remaining points were a pair of Rose free throws, as the Wizards missed all three long range attempts in the last minute. They were 3-for-14 from deep on the night.
Despite being outplayed in stretches, the Wizards also caught the tail end of some difficult calls. Rose’s speed certainly caught the Wizards off guard—to the tune of a 14-for-15 night at the charity stripe—but the Bulls outshot them 31-13 at the line, with the disparity in makes (24-11) larger than the final margin.
Rose had a season high 35 points, one night after scoring 34 in the loss at Miami. Carlos Boozer had 18 and 8 rebounds, Korver chipped in 17 (and was a team high plus-17 when on the court) and Noah had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
Wall ended the night with 20 points on 7-16 shooting, 6 assists and 2 steals. JaVale McGee had 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals, and Trevor Booker continued to impress, stuffing the stat sheet with 14 points (7-for-9 shooting), nine boards, two assists, three steals, two blocks and zero turnovers in 26 minutes of action.
The team picks up again Wednesday when they visit the Orlando Magic, who drubbed them 103-85 earlier this season.