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The likely toughest stretch of the Rose-less part of the season behind them, the Bulls got the first winnable game in hand with a comfortable-enough victory over the Wizards. The worst-in-league (and on a back-to-back) Wiz did their part in hanging around, though they haven't had John Wall all season and were missing their leading scorer Jordan Crawford. Though they started out fairly decently, especially in the frontcourt (Booz+Noah were scoreless in their first stint), The Wizards never led after a 13 point, 19% shooting second quarter. They did manage to get the Bulls lead down to 2 points in the 2nd half but never were able to re-take the lead.
And then, what seemed like a game where the Bulls may have played just-crappily enough to lose, and that the Wizards could've maybe changed the outcome if they'd been crisper on a couple of transition opportunities and limited their turnovers (16 on the night)...the Bulls completely locked them down, holding them scoreless in the final 4:47. The Bulls only scored 5 points in that time themselves, but it was enough from a lineup including unexpected closing wing tandem of Belinelli and Butler. Very strange to see Deng not out there, but Thibs insists it was just a flow-of-the-game decision and not Deng hurting. Thibs is also a filthy liar, so who knows.
The wing rotation was different tonight, as Rip Hamilton returned and went right into the starting lineup. Rip looked fine, in the way that he still can: running off of screens and on good days being near 50% on mid-range jumpers. It's not the best offensive look, but it is at least something. And naturally it helps Rip's trade value to be ambulatory.
Rip being back meant that Marco Belinelli was coming off the bench, though he played 33 minutes as Rip's on the Bogans-plan for now. and thankfully he kept up his when-starting play instead of regressing to how he was at the beginning of the season. Belinelli had a team-high (...yup) 17 and was 2-3 from three-point range. The Bulls overall had a very good night from beyond the arc, hitting 7-16 with Kirk Hinrich also chipping in two makes.
Belinelli led a pretty productive bench night, as Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson had 13 points (hey, that's a lot in a Bulls game). Nazr Mohammed also, um, had 13 minutes, but didn't hit a shot and looks like he no longer can. He did have 8 rebounds though in the surprising reliance from Thibs at the expense of Boozer and Noah's minutes. In fact, but Noah and Deng were under 40 minutes in the game, and it really may have been due to performance. The Bulls gave up a 30% of their available defensive rebounds to the Wizards, who were really hurting them with tip-outs. Luckily they weren't able to convert much off of them, being the Wizards and all, but it was not a great game from the Bulls frontcourt players, even Joakim Noah.
And not a great game overall, shooting 39% as a team. But they hit enough threes and held the Wizards to an awful 36.5% and sub-80 points. That's usually more than enough against a team like them, which is convenient since that's the type of games coming up on the schedule.