October 28, 2020

Rose-less Bulls use impressive defense to defeat Wizards

Fresh off its first win of the season, the Wizards almost caught a break in Chicago. Without Derrick Rose, the league MVP and Bulls team captain, it appeared to be an auspicious start to Washington’s two game road trip.

As with numerous other opportunities this season, Washington was unable to capitalize, as the Wizards set a franchise mark for offensive futility falling 78-64.  The point total was the lowest since the previous record of 65, set Dec. 13, 2002 against the New Jersey Nets.

An increasingly impressive Wizards defense wasn’t enough to beat the Rose-less Bulls, who maintained their own defensive prowess without their leading scorer. John Lucas filled in admirably for Rose (sprained toe) at point guard, putting up 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win.

JaVale McGee starred for the Wizards (1-9), ending his night with 10 points, 14 boards and five blocks—though he also committed two goal-tending violations in another uneven performance. Andray Blatche missed the contest with a shoulder injury, and his absence was notable with Kevin Seraphin forced into duty.

Flip Saunders maintained Tuesday night’s successful starting lineup, and while it didn’t get them the win it paid off on the defensive end. Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker provided much needed energy, and helped set the tone for a team increasingly cultivating its new identity.

Even without Rose the Bulls had a distinct advantage in the front court. Omer Asik (14 boards), Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah provided stout defense inside, and Luol Deng chipped in 15 rebounds, despite making only five of his 21 shots.

The Wizards continued to struggle from the field, particularly hitting jump shots. Conversely, the Bulls relied on Kyle Korver’s hot hand as they pulled away down the stretch

Korver was also able to exploit the Wizards youth and immaturity. With the Bulls up eight half way through the fourth, Korver used a hard foul to prevent Crawford from converting a fast break layup. Crawford retaliated by shoving him under the basket, and the ensuing technical foul negated an opportunity to make it a two possession game.

The Wizards were able the keep the score knotted late into the third quarter, but Korver continued to hit shots in crunch time. After a Trevor Booker jumper cut the lead to 69-64 with five minutes to go in the fourth, Korver hit a demoralizing fade-away late in the shot clock to give the Bulls a 71-64 lead. The Wizards wouldn’t score the rest of the way.

John Wall continued his struggles from the field, shooting 4-for-13 on his way to 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists. He also failed to record a steal, making it two straight after notching one in 15 consecutive games prior.

The Wizards fly to Philadelphia for a Friday tilt, and then host the Sixers the following night in the Verizon Center.

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