It was a fantastic 47 minutes of play by the Chicago Bulls in their afternoon contest against the Washington Wizards. You can even say it was 47 minutes and 6 seconds of good play, as that’s when Kris Dunn hit a beautiful pull-up jumper to put Chicago up 110-107 with 54 seconds left on the clock.
All the Bulls had to do was get one stop, hit some free throws, they would be on their way out of the Verizon Center with a win. However, they ran into John Wall and Bradley Beal show, who was giving Chicago trouble all game long and again when Washington needed them the most.
It was Beal’s turn to lead the charge this time around, scoring 39 points along with 9 assists and 9 rebounds, nearly getting a triple double. He started off the comeback with a quick bucket off an inbounds play.
(5:14-5:25) To start off this inbounds play, Beal is standing near the dotted circle at the top of the paint and is guarded by Justin Holiday. As soon as the inbounds man gets the ball, Beal sprints towards the three-point line and curls towards the opposite end of the court. Beal forces Holiday to go through two separate screens: one from Mike Scott at the free throw line and one from Marcin Gortat at the three-point line. This creates some sizable distance between Holiday and Beal which made for an easier cross court inbounds pass by Otto Porter. As soon as Beal catches the ball, he finds himself being guarded by two Bulls defenders, Holiday and Nikola Mirotic, who is sagging back in front of him. Beal waits for a moment and then shifts to his right, beating Holiday and then gets around Mirotic with aid of a back screen by Gortat. With nobody at the rim, it’s a simple lay-in for the Florida product.
Washington still needed another stop and they got one when Holiday missed a three-pointer. Then it was Wall’s turn to make the big play. He had a good game as well, scoring 21 points and dropping 9 assists despite shooting 30% from the field. But his best moment came in transition after the Holiday miss.
(5:34-5:44) Off the missed shot, Wall grabs the rebound and quickly dribbles to half court where is met by Holiday, who told Dunn to stay on Beal instead. Meanwhile, Gortat is running alongside Wall but obviously takes a longer time to get to the three-point line where Wall is standing. Mirotic, who is guarding Gortat, is there to greet the Polish big man when he gets there. The only problem is that it left a huge gap behind the Bulls defense and with nobody to guard the paint or deep enough to rotate over. Wall recognizes it and with one simple crossover, he makes a move to get into the paint. Holiday does an ok job of defending Wall on the drive but he is nowhere near quick enough to stop him. Wall drives right at Holiday, gets contact and a foul called, but then sneakily flips up a shot with his left hand. The ball bounces off the square and into the basket, completing the three-point play and giving the Wizards the lead.
Chicago had numerous chances to re-take the lead but failed to do so. Dunn missed a pull-up jumper the following possession and then when it seemed Chicago got bailed out by Beal missing two free throws, Wall swooped in for the offensive rebound to seal the Washington victory. It was a horrific blunder by Chicago to not secure the rebound and it could have given them a good chance to tie the game if they had done it.
This in all honesty, was a game Chicago should have seen out in the final seconds and won. Mark this one down as one which got away, or a stealth tank loss.