CHICAGO (AP)DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points, Zach LaVine added 27 and the Chicago Bulls overcame their shooting woes from long range Sunday to beat the Washington Wizards 102-82.
Alex Caruso and LaVine each sank 3-pointers midway through the third quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a 57-52 lead the Bulls wouldn’t relinquish. Before the consecutive 3s, the Bulls converted only one of their first 16 3-point attempts.
”We have to find ugly ways to win games,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
The Bulls (28-33) won their second game in a row after losing six straight to close the first half of the season. They finished shooting 8 of 30 from 3-point range, while the Wizards shot only 6 of 28 from long range.
Bradley Beal scored 18 points for the Wizards (28-32), who lost their second consecutive game. They played without forward-center Kristaps Porzingis due to left knee soreness and guard Monte Morris was scratched less than an hour before tip off because of lower back soreness.
The Wizards managed to stay close for three quarters thanks to balanced scoring by Beal, Daniel Gafford (15) and Delon Wright (14). Washington also managed 44 points in the paint.
Beal, however, missed three free throws to start the fourth quarter, and Andre Drummond’s putback extended the Bulls’ lead to 81-72.
”We have to do a better job of screening to free up guys,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after the Wizards committed 16 turnovers. ”A lot of them (Bulls defenders) shoot the gap and be disruptive from that regard. But those turnovers are costly. Those are empty possessions for us and leads to some transition opportunities for them.
”We got to do a better job of that, fighting force with force and manage their physicality.”
Despite the Bulls’ struggles from long range, they had an 11-0 spurt, punctuated by a 3-pointer by Patrick Williams, to take a 32-27 lead nearly three minutes into the second quarter.
DeRozan and LaVine combined to shoot 22 for 33 from the field.
LaVine made eight of 10 shots en route to a 17-point first half. Coby White came off the bench to score 17 on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including three 3-pointers.
”We can’t afford to have those slipups,” LaVine said of the Bulls’ two straight victories. ”Obviously, we know teams are going to make their runs. You get a team down, got to keep them down and close the game out. We can’t afford to have those back-and-forths where you give up a big lead.”
Donovan said before the game there were no discussions with team officials about tanking the rest of the season. The Bulls’ first pick was sent to Orlando in the Nikola Vucevic trade, but it becomes protected and retained if they don’t make the playoffs and they land in the lottery within the first four picks.
”I’ve never had a situation from ownership, front office, that has said, `Listen, we’ve got an opportunity to potentially manipulate or get a higher draft pick, (saying) let’s sit these guys. let’s give these guys an opportunity,”’ Donovan said. ”That’s never taken place. I respect that and appreciate that.”
Wizards: Play at Atlanta on Tuesday night.
Bulls: Travel to Toronto to play the Raptors on Tuesday night.
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