Webster wasn’t afraid to step out on a limb. “We feel like we should be easily above .500 right now, but if we continue to play the game the right way, I think we’ll be there real soon,” Webster said, seemingly forgetting that the Wizards still remain 20 games below .500 and would have to go 31-9 the rest of the way to reach that goal. “Nothing has changed, except for our starting point guard. But as far as defensively, mentally, we’ve been preparing ourselves for games like this every day. So it’s not surprising. We’ll be surprised when we find ourselves above .500.”
The Bulls led 40-35 when Robinson made a short floater in the lane, but the Wizards responded with a 25-6 run over the next 10 minutes. Emeka Okafor made a spin move, converted a difficult layup to put the Wizards ahead, 60-46, and forced Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau to call a timeout.
Okafor combined with Nene to keep all-star center Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in check. Boozer was so flustered that he took his frustrations out on Okafor, picking up a flagrant foul for shoving Okafor in the face and to the ground when he failed to give him room in the low post. Later, Okafor attempted to drive around Boozer and collided directly into Boozer’s left shoulder. Boozer then assisted Okafor on his fall, tossing him to the ground and collecting a technical foul.
“Things get aggressive, boys will be boys and things happen,” said Okafor, who recorded his ninth double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. “It’s fun. I’m a physical player. I’m built for it. I don’t shy away from contact. When it gets rough, that’s better for me.”
The Wizards led by 20 points in the fourth quarter before the Bulls chopped it half and trailed, 77-67, when Robinson made a three-pointer. Wall ended the run when he got fouled, made two free throws and then, after Robinson tossed the ball into the Wizards bench, found Okafor along the baseline for a jumper that put them back up by 14 points with 4 minutes 17 seconds remaining.
“This solidifies and lets us know, you guys are making the right moves in the right direction,” Okafor said. “We are the team we thought we were supposed to be, fully loaded.”