Like the Washington Wizards, the Chicago Bulls enter tonight's game at MCI Center still scrambling to find the flow that made them a surprising participant in the Eastern Conference playoffs last spring. Both teams have beaten the defending champion San Antonio Spurs (the Bulls won 106-99 at San Antonio on Nov. 25), but have also lost to struggling teams.
In addition to adjusting to life without center Eddy Curry, who was traded to the New York Knicks before the season, the Bulls have battled a rash of recent injuries to guards Kirk Hinrich (concussion), Ben Gordon (sprained right knee) and forward Tyson Chandler, who has been undergoing tests to determine why he has been bothered by fatigue.
One difference between the teams is that while the Wizards were 11-6 through 17 games last season, the Bulls opened 3-14 before turning things around and finally getting over .500 in January. Like the Wizards, some of the Bulls are tired of playing inconsistent basketball.
"For us to be .500 and not playing defense the way we need to play, mediocre is the right word," Bulls guard Chris Duhon said recently. "We should not accept being .500 right now. We expect more of ourselves and we should have a better record than we have."
The Wizards won the season series with the Bulls, 2-1, last season and won the teams' first-round playoff series, 4-2.
The Wizards will wear retro-style uniforms from the 1972-73 season tonight against the Bulls and tomorrow night at Miami. The 1972-73 Baltimore Bullets uniform features navy and orange stripes down one side of the jersey and shorts. The Wizards will wear the uniforms during four more home games this season.
Because of a snowstorm that hit Indianapolis, the Wizards were unable to fly home after Thursday night's game and returned yesterday.