This was the 2nd time this week the Bulls faced the Wizards, and all things considered (meaning...it's a horrible Rose-less Bulls season after all) the games have been kind of fun. It's not the glory days of vs. or anything, but these games have been sorta well-played, got kind of chippy, and they were competitive. Though the Wizards did wind up pulling ahead pretty thoroughly in the game on Monday, tonight it was much closer near the end...but still wound up with a Bulls loss.
And really, the last stretch of the game was not even sorta well-played. The final 5 minutes resulted in a 6-2 advantage for the Bulls, who only scored on a Hinrich shot-clock bailout jumper in that time. None of of their late-game possessions went very well, including their final one down 3 with Jimmy Butler unable to get by Nene at the 3-point line...Butler was ultimately blocked as time expired.
Before that, though, it really wasn't so bad. The first half started out like Monday, with the Wiz shooting lights out (they were over 65% midway through the 2nd, and wound up over 50% again) but the Bulls keeping pace. The bench had a solid 1st half and game overall, led by DJ Augustin's 16 points (including 4-6 from three) and Taj Gibson's 12. Tony Snell was meh in that bench unit too (3-8, 8 points in 25 minutes) but he at least thoroughly outplayed the guy picked 17 spots ahead of him in the draft (Otto Porter, 5 scoreless minutes). The first half also saw some really nice ballhawking from Jimmy Butler, though he and his teammates were a bit overagressive at times leaving open corner 3s. On offense, the Bulls also not only had a lot of turnovers but they were of the bizarre variety: missed communications on post-entry passes and after defensive rebounds, that kind of thing.
The Bulls took their biggest lead early in the 3rd quarter behind a Kirk Hinrich thrust. Hinrich improbably led the Bulls with 18 points, with 7 in that third quarter (plus 2 assists, 2 rebounds and a block) to get his team an 8 point lead. John Wall countered after Hinrich went to the bench to immediately erase that deficit and get it to the close affair it'd be throughout the rest of the game. Wall finished with 23 points and 11 assists, and like Monday proved to be too fast for the Bulls to either stop his shooting or the generating of assists from his drives. Tonight Washington's role player who'd be the biggest beneficiary was Martell Webster, who hit 4 of 5 threes for 14 points overall.
Meanwhile, the Bulls really didn't have enough supporting performances behind (wha...) Hinrich. Noah, Butler, and Dunleavy were all under 10 points and Boozer scored only 12. The Wizards are kind of the Bulls contemporaries at the moment in the morass of the Eastern Conference, though this week they showed they're the better team.