The Wizards opened the game on an 8-0 run and would never relinquish that lead, going wire-to-wire for a 102-88 win at the United Center on Monday night.
The Bulls cut the lead to five with 5:28 left in the game, but the Wizards would respond with a 7-0 run, capped by a Bradley Beal 3-pointer, to seal Chicago's fate for the night.
Making his first start in over a month, Nene would tie for a team-high with 19 points on 9-14 shooting to go along with his five boards and five assists. John Wall finished with 19 points, seven assists, and five boards, Trevor Ariza had 16 points and nine boards, Bradley Beal added 13, while Martell Webster and Garrett Temple finished with 12 and 10 respectively off the bench.
This was one of the Wizards most complete games of the season as they brought the effort and intensity for the full 48 minutes.
The Wizards shot 52% for the game and have now won seven of their last nine games on the road.
They shot a season-high 59% in the first half and brought a 13 point lead into the halftime locker room (56-43).
They return home to play the Miami Heat for the first of a five game homestand on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. - Jeremy Hyman
Nene will move back into the starting lineup, replacing Trevor Booker who will be available off the bench. Nene has started 16 games this season, but moved to the bench after coming back from a foot injury and has not been in the starting lineup since December 6th in a loss to Milwaukee. There's no word if his minutes limit has been lifted, but the fact that he's starting again must mean that he's feeling better.
We'll have to wait and see how this changes the rotation, but looking forward to seeing how Nene does with the first team again.
During a typical season, having to go back on the road after just one game at home might be tough. For this team though, being on the road might be preferable. The Wizards have now won six of their last eight on the road, while dropping seven of their last eight at home. Of course after the Wizards last game against Houston, which featured almost an hour in ‘rain delays’ due to a leak in the roof, typical is not a word being used a lot around here.
The Bulls come into this one on fire no matter where they are playing. The Bulls have won five in a row (with four of those wins coming at home), and eight of their last ten. Six days ago the Bulls traded away arguably their most valuable player in Luol Deng, and it doesn't seem to have affected them that much yet, given that they have yet to lose without Deng. These two teams sit next to each other in the standings, with the Bulls currently sitting in the five spot and the Wizards the six.
Playing the Bulls is always a slog, as they want to slow the game down as much as they can. They score less than any team in the NBA at 91.4 points per game, but are also the second stingiest team in the NBA, allowing just 91.6 points per game. The Wizards will look to try to speed the game up and get out and run to get the Bulls out of their comfort zone. During the Bulls last five games, only once have they allowed more than 87 points and only once have they scored more than 94. It's a big transition from playing the Rockets for the Wizards, who are essentially the inverse of the Bulls, scoring at will and not playing a ton of defense.
The key matchups in this one should come in the front court. Nene and Booker against Boozer, and Gortat against Noah. Since the trade of Deng, the Bulls have made even more of an effort to look down low to their talented big men. Noah is coming off of a 19 point, 14 rebound performance against Charlotte while Boozer has scored 19 and 12 in his two games back from injury. DJ Augustin is coming off his best game of the campaign, scoring 20 points and dishing out 12 assists in the win over Charlotte. Wizards' old friend Cartier Martin also made an immediate impact in his first game for the Bulls, scoring 11 points off the bench.
For the Wizards, there shouldn't be too many changes in the rotation. Kevin Seraphin may be in line for more minutes after his big effort against Houston. For the Bulls, Jimmy Butler will return to the lineup after missing their last game. He's so crucial to them on both ends of the floor and plays the most minutes per game for Chicago.
Tip-off is at 8pm from the United Center, Jeremy Hyman and I will be ready in the live chat as always.