Heading into Oklahoma City for the start of a four game road trip, the Chicago Bulls were looking for some peace of mind and to capitalize on some momentum. They had engineered a comeback to beat the Los Angeles Clippers with Zach LaVine’s three-point play capping off a wild final 30 seconds of regulation. After an ugly loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, a win against a top team in the league seemed like just the spark the Bulls needed to get going. For the first 24 minutes against the Thunder, it seemed like Chicago had picked up where they left off against Los Angeles, racing out to a lead as much as 26. They dominated the entire first half and it was the best stretch of basketball we have seen this team play in a long time.
But then the second half began and everything unraveled. Chris Paul could not stop hitting three-pointers and along with some sketch referee calls, Oklahoma City found themselves right back into the game. A tough call on Wendell Carter Jr. defending an inbounds play led to Steven Adams banking in the game winning free throw as the Bulls blew another huge lead this season in a 109-106 loss. This is another tally in a worrying occurrence for this Chicago teams: the inability to close out games. These are wins they must put away and each blown lead somehow gets more and more defeating. Chicago now drops to 10-19 on the season and will travel to the East Coast to face a team which is right next to them in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Washington Wizards will be the next opponent for the Bulls. Like Chicago they have struggled mightily this season with a record of 8-17. They currently sit tied with the Bulls as both teams are three games back of the eighth seed Orlando Magic. On Monday they snapped a four game losing streak with a double digit win over the Detroit Pistons. Bradley Beal is still the go-to scorer for the Wizards and dropped 35 points along with 10 assists. Isaiah Thomas scored 23 and Davis Bertans, who has been a very nice surprise to start the season, scored 17. Behind the duo of Beal and Bertans, the Wizards have some nice scoring pop which the Bulls have to be weary of. Bertans has taken a high volume of shots so expect him to the focal point of some offensive possessions. Chicago also has to be careful of giving up too many three-point attempts to Washington. They currently are fifth in the league in three-point percentage at 37.6 percent and are 12th in the league in attempts (34.6).
As for the injury report, the Wizards are missing three of their main big men. Thomas Bryant is out with a stress reaction in his foot, rookie Rui Hachimura is nursing a groin injury, and Moe Wagner dealing with a sprained left ankle. CJ Miles and Jordan McRae are out as well with a left wrist and right finger injury respectively.
The Bulls are still missing Cristiano Felicio (wrist), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder), and Otto Porter Jr. (right foot).
Game Time: 7PM CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Betting Odds: The Wizards opened as a 1 point favorite (via the Action Network) but it’s since moved up to (-1.5) for Washington. The over/under is at 229.5 but in some places you can find it at 230.