Derrick Rose and the Bulls withstand a late push from the Wizards to win on the road, 99-91 and beat the top two teams in the east in as many nights. Rose led the way with 25 points on 10-17 shooting and a rejuvenated Pau Gasol contributed 18 points as the Bulls pull within a ½ game of the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Standings.
In a playoff like atmosphere, the Wizards came out fired up turning the Bulls over on their first two possessions resulting in easy buckets. One the second offensive possession for the Bulls, John Wall jarred the ball away from Rose; John dove to the floor to gather the loose ball, right around the knee area of Rose (probably didn’t make Bulls fans feel too comfortable) and threw a pass to Kris Humphries from his knees for a easy lay in.
As I’ve been saying all season, the biggest Achilles heel for this Wizards squad is small and speedy point guards and that trend continued tonight. D Rose scored his first bucket of the game where he utilized a screen set from Pau Gasol and exploded to the rim for a nice reverse layup. It was a pre injury “DRose esk” move.
The remainder of the first quarter was a defensive struggle for both squads. The Wizards limited the Bulls’ guards to just one shot down the floor and the Bulls did a great job in preventing the Wizards from getting out and running in transition.
Both teams started their reserves in the second quarter. The Wizards’ bench played nicely throughout this game but not at the level we need them to if we’re going to win these “statement” games in the eastern conference. Rasual Butler who is pretty much automatic off the bench struggled and shot a poor 0-4 in the first half. The Bulls switched Aaron Brooks onto Rasual so that Andre Miller couldn’t utilize his old man post up moves to take advantage of the size mismatch. This gamble paid off nicely for the Bulls and they enjoyed a 46-40 lead at the midway mark.
Rejuvenated Pau Gasol was reaping the benefits of playing with all-star guard Derrick Rose and this was evident throughout the third quarter. In the Pick-and-Roll game, Derrick is a tough guard. If the defender goes over the screen (Which the Wiz did often) this forces the big man to hedge, which would lead Pau wide open for a elbow jumper. If the hedge from the defensive big man isn’t fast enough or efficient in stopping Rose, he would rise up for a floater. This happened on five occasions alone in the third quarter, all resulting in Chicago buckets.
The Wizards hung tough and were able to stay within striking distance, only down five, entering the fourth.
The Wizards ran the first five possessions of the 4th quarter through Nene. Three nice moves including a posterizing dunk over Nikola Mirotic.
Nene backed that up with forced shots and driving to the hole hoping to get fouled. You know… Nene being Nene plays.
About halfway through the 4th with the Wizards down 9, John Wall decided to take this game over. John took the ball on three straight possessions and raced down the court for three layups to cut the Bulls lead to 3. Wall then followed that up hitting a jumper over Joakim Noah at the 3:35 mark and the Wizards regained the lead 87-86. This was the first Wizards lead since early in the 1st quarter.
After that one point lead, a combination of poor shooting from the Wizards and too much Derrick Rose allowed Chicago to pull away and close this one out 99-91.
Wizards look to snap this two game losing streak in New York on Christmas day. The Bulls welcome the LakeShow to Chicago on Christmas who surprisingly just beat the Warriors.