The Chicago Bulls sleepwalked their way through most of the first three quarters against the Washington Wizards before making one final charge in the fourth quarter behind Zach LaVine. But unlike the Dec. 18 matchup in which the Wizards blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead, the Bulls weren’t able to complete the comeback in a 126-114 loss.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 21 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter down 18. That’s when the Wizards went into full-blown meltdown mode again offensively, allowing the Bulls back into the game. A 9-0 run featuring five straight LaVine points pulled the Bulls within eight points with just under seven minutes to play in the game. The closest they would get to drawing even was six points, but the Wizards had enough juice in their legs and pride in their hearts to not completely blow a huge lead again like they had done a few months earlier.
Late in the game, it was LaVine and Bradley Beal (two guys who felt like they got snubbed from the All-Star game) trading blows. It added a layer of excitement to an otherwise inconsequential game between two poor Eastern Conference squads. LaVine finished with a team-high 41 points on 15-for-21 from the field, while Beal had 30 points on 12-for-23 shooting from the field and seven assists. Tomas Satoransky added 19 points and eight assists against his former team.
For LaVine, it was his fifth 40-point game of the season, with 19 of those points coming in the fourth quarter as he hit a number of crazy shots to keep the Bulls in it.
Beal was picking apart the porous Bulls’ defense all night, as he had 21 points and six assists at the halfway mark of the third quarter. He led the Wizards to that 18-point advantage after three frames after the Wizards outscored the Bulls by 11 in the quarter in yet another Turd Quarter.
Defensively, the Wizards were focusing all their attention on LaVine and daring anybody else on the Bulls to beat them. LaVine got his points, obviously, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the game had nothing to do with what was actually happening on the court.
Head coach Jim Boylen didn’t play Daniel Gafford (who was on the bench available to play), instead favoring Cristiano Felicio and Luke Kornet. Gafford joined two-way guy Adam Mokoka as Bulls players receiving a DNP-CD. Boylen shed some light on the decision after the game, so take these comments as you will:
Jim Boylen on why Daniel Gafford didn't play tonight pic.twitter.com/FPX7vwczi8— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) February 12, 2020
A byproduct of this lineup decision was that the Wizards met no resistance at the rim for most of the night. They had 62 points in the paint, outscoring the Bulls by 12 in that category.
NBC Sports Chicago reporter K.C. Johnson summed up the state of the Bulls going into the All-Star break really well:
Wizards 126, Bulls 114— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 12, 2020
Bulls enter All-Star break a season-worst 17 games under .500 and on a season-high-tying 6-game losing streak.
Also, now is a good time to remind you that the Bulls haven’t had anybody make the All-Star Game since the 2016-2017 season when Jimmy Butler did it.
Enjoy the All-Star break.