The Bulls winning ways came to a halt as the Washington Wizards handed them a 102-88 defeat, bringing an end to a season high five-game win streak.
A more concerning issue for the Bulls is the slippage on defense that was an issue for the final three periods of Saturday’s win over Charlotte, which they allowed 97 points. Washington shot 52 percent from the field and neglected the chance for the Bulls (17-19) to climb to .500 for the first time since Nov. 27.
The Bulls never led as they also committed 18 turnovers that led to 22 points for Washington.
“I thought Washington got their confidence against us early,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It is hard to shut off a team once they get going. I thought we came out to start the third quarter and we had some juice to us. Their defense was not very good; we got to get that corrected. I did not think we had an edge tonight. On that part, I have to make sure they understand what we need to win. We have to come out with a very high intensity level for us to win. That is the first part of it.
“I thought we were shortcutting things. If you’re asked to set a screen, you have to set a screen. If you’re asked to cut, you have to cut. It’s all the little things. That’s what separates teams. When you start looking past them and thinking it’s not necessary, the result is not going to be good.”
Carlos Boozer led the team with 19 points. Jimmy Butler added 12 and Joakim Noah pulled down a game-high 16 boards. Tony Snell contributed 12 points in 15 minutes off the bench.
Washington led by as many as 15. The Bulls got to striking distance several of times throughout the game, but couldn’t string together consistent stops of scorers when needed.
The Wizards were led by Nene and John Wall, who both scored 19 apiece. They also got 16 from Trevor Ariza and
“It seemed like every time we made a run and we got the chance to take the lead, they just hit a big three,” Taj Gibson said. “It was a tough night. Games like this (are) a wakeup call because it humbles you. Like when you’re feeling too good about yourself, feeling invincible, a team comes in and smacks you and wakes you up to reality.”
This can be looked at as a bump in the road as there’s sure to be game film dissected on Tuesday at practice. A lot of players in the Bulls locker room were also surprised the Wizards were calling out all of their play-sets, forcing them into their third and fourth options. At this point in the season, most teams are used to the sets each other runs and more emphasis is placed on execution, which the Bulls certainly couldn’t do against Washington.
“Overall, I thought we played hard, we just didn’t play our best basketball,” Noah said. “It’s always (disappointing) after we lose. I thought I could’ve done things a lot better, finished a little better at the rim. I think I overpassed a little bit, but we come back and play them on Friday, so we’ll be ready for that game.”
Before the rematch, the Bulls will depart for Orlando on Tuesday to face the Magic on Wednesday.