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Against the Wizards, the Bulls were the better-executing team (for once)

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Three key plays decided the game in overtime and the Bulls came up aces in all of them

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After giving up a humongous lead to the Thunder on Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls were on the different side of the coin against the Washington Wizards. They were down 18 points in the fourth quarter and seemed to be headed to another loss. But the Bulls battled back thanks to the effort of Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine. A chaotic final minutes of regulation, which featured two bad fouls by Washington, resulted in five free points for Chicago. LaVine knocked down the game tying shot from the charity stripe and the game headed to overtime all square at 96. Then in overtime the teams continued to battle and the game remained close until the closing seconds. But then LaVine found Wendell Carter Jr. underneath the basket for a reverse layup with less than 10 seconds left to give Chicago a one-point lead. While it was nice to see the Bulls young stars come up with a big basket, they still needed a stop on the defensive end. They failed to do so in regulation and it nearly costed them the game. But this time Bradley Beal’s shot attempt clanked off the rim and the Bulls walked out of the Capital One Arena with a 110-109 victory.

There were some big time plays made by the Bulls in overtime. LaVine and Carter Jr. combined for a bucket on the offensive end. While Shaq Harrison along with some help from Carter Jr. made the final stops to thwart a game winning shot by the Wizards. Let’s take a look at the three final plays which decided the game.

The Wizards had a chance to make a three-point lead but Beal couldn’t get the layup to fall and it was quickly rebounded by Ryan Arcidiacano and funneled out to Tomas Satoransky. After crossing half court he slowed down and gave it to LaVine on the left wing. Matched up against Isaiah Thomas, LaVine decided to drive into the basket and use his size to his advantage. He initially looked like he was going right before making a quick move the other way, catching Thomas off guard.

Anžejs Pasečņiks, who the Wizards signed to a two-way contract just days ago, came over to help on the drive. But LaVine quickly went by him two, Eurostepping to his right and inside the paint. With Pasečņiks rotated over to stop LaVine, that left WCJ open underneath the basket. Carter Jr. caught the ball in what looked like a tough area to go up with a layup. So he improvised shot a reverse layup with his left hand and it gave Chicago the lead.

Coming out of a timeout, the Wizards ran Beal off a screen at the free throw line and got him the ball on the right wing. Earlier in regulation it was Kris Dunn who was guarding Beal in crunch time but he had fouled out, leaving Harrison to guard Beal one on one. Beal sized him up and beat him off the dribble to his right. It looked like a sure layup but WCJ came to the rescue. He was sitting in the middle of the paint but always had one eye on Beal in case trouble arose. When Beal came down the baseline, Carter Jr. came over there in a flash and stopped him right in his tracks. He even did a good job of not fouling Beal when he pump faked and the ball flew out thanks to WCJ knocking it loose with his left hand. Not many centers can rotate over like that with that type of quickness and have the type of awareness to perfect the timing of it as well. It’s a play which doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but it was one of the more important ones in the game.

But there was still one stop left. Once again Beal got the ball near the baseline. This time Harrison was much closer to him so Beal decided to go left instead of right. He spun and dribbled his way into the paint and was right in front of the restricted circle when he stopped. All this time Harrison was on him like glue. Beal stopped for a second to try and get Harrison off him but instead chose to fade away. With his hands up the entire time Beal was in the paint, Harrison didn’t contest. But Carter Jr. did. He waited till the shot went up and tired to swat it. The double contest seemed to affect the jump shot a bit as it hit front rim as the buzzer sounded.

We have seen numerous times where poor decision making has hurt the Bulls in crunch time. It was evident against Oklahoma City and other close games they have been in so far this season. Although it came against another team close to them in the standings, these are the games Chicago has to win if they even want to keep their chances of the eighth seed alive. LaVine, Harrison, and WCJ all came up clutch in the final moments when the Bulls needed them the most. Now Chicago heads to Detroit to play the Pistons on Saturday night.