Final Score: Wizards 78 Bulls 96
The Wizards were on the losing end of a lopsided contest tonight versus the Chicago Bulls losing by a score of 96-78. The Wizards struggled offensively, shooting 39.5% from the field, 18.8% from beyond the arc, and a tough 58.3% from the charity stripe. The Wizards showed some promise in the 3rd quarter, cutting a 26 point deficit down to 11, but could not get any closer than that as the Bulls would cruise down the stretch.
The Wizards were led in scoring by John Wall who registered 20 points and six assists. Marcin Gortat, charged with the tough task of matching up against Joakim Noah, scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. It was Polish Heritage Night and at the very least Gortat put forth a nice performance for the myriad of Polish fans in attendance. Bradley Beal added 14 points coming off an excellent performance against the New York Knicks last night.
The Bulls benefited from an excellent game played by DJ Augustin who led all scorers with 25 points. Joakim Noah registered a double-double in an overall dominant performance scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer added 16 points, and former Wizard Kirk Hinrich added 11 points shooting 3/4 from beyond the arc.
The Wizards got a serious glimpse of a potential first round opponent. Hopefully if the two teams meet in the playoffs it will be more like the first two times these teams met which saw the Wizards get victories. Next up for the Wizards is Charlotte on Wednesday, one of their biggest contests of the year with the Bobcats nipping at Washington's heels in the standings. - Brad Bobrow
Down the stretch we come... The Wizards are back home tonight for what could be a first round playoff preview as they host the red-hot Chicago Bulls tonight at Verizon Center.
As it stands today the Wizards are all alone as the 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Bulls are tied for 3rd with the Toronto Raptors. Because the Raps are leading their division, they hold the tie-breaker, but with six games left there's still a very realistic chance this could be the series we see when the playoffs start in two weeks.
Before the season, if someone were to tell you that Derrick Rose would miss almost the entire year (again), and the Bulls would trade Luol Deng in early January, you probably would not have guessed that they would win more games than any other team (32) in the Eastern Conference since January 1st. A pretty amazing feat for what they've gone through, but that's the MO for these Bulls. They take on the identity of their head coach Tom Thibodeau, who preaches defense and effort. They don't have a guy on the roster who averages more than 15.0 points per game, and their leading scorer, D.J. Augustin, comes off the bench. But, they win by limiting teams to 43% shooting and trail only the Pacers in team defense and points allowed per game.
Joakim Noah is their star and he's having another outstanding season. He's turned into a do-it-all center and will sometimes lead the team in assists from the 5 spot. He's notched over 10 assists in six games this season and is on pace to become only the 9th player in NBA history to finish a season with over 400 assists and 100 blocks.
For the Wizards, Marcin Gortat will be spending most of the night on Noah, which I can guarantee he's looking forward to. He's recently spoke about going up against some of the top defensive centers in the league like Tyson Chandler and Roy Hibbert, and tonight will be no different. He takes these as challenges and so far has performed well against the league's best.
Regardless, Randy wittman knows to expect a physical battle when these two teams face off tonight:
And tonight is Polish Heritage night, so Gortat will certainly have some added motivation as many of his fellow countrymen and women will be in the crowd cheering him on.
It could be the first to 90 who wins this one, which the Wiz were happy about last night as they knocked off the Knicks 90-89 at the Garden. Look for the Wiz to try and pick up the pace and not fall into the Bulls sluggish half-court style game for too long.
We're live chatting from Verizon Center at 7pm tonight. Expecting a playoff like atmosphere for these two playoff bound teams.