CHICAGO, Feb. 23 -- Without a consistent low-post scorer or even an all-star player, the Chicago Bulls try to win games with tough defense, crisp ball movement and timely shooting.
Those traits were on full display Friday night when the Bulls overwhelmed the Washington Wizards with a 105-90 victory that was the product of a swarming defense that held everyone other than Gilbert Arenas in check, forced 17 turnovers and fueled an offense that featured third-year forward Luol Deng, who finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
The loss was Washington's sixth straight at Chicago, snapped a three-game winning streak and sent the Wizards (31-22) to Minneapolis for Sunday's game against the Timberwolves with a lesson in what can happen when they are reduced to one scoring option against a quality opponent.
Arenas finished with 36 points on 11-of-20 shooting, but all-star sidekick Caron Butler was held to 14 on 5-of-14 shooting and DeShawn Stevenson, who calls himself "Mr. Fifty" because he came into the game shooting 50 percent from the field, finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
The real killer for the Wizards was turnovers, which Chicago converted into 21 points. The Bulls turned over the ball only five times, held a 47-40 advantage in rebounding and a 26-9 edge in fast-break points. The Bulls (32-25) have won three straight coming out of the all-star break.
"That's how they play," said Wizards forward Darius Songaila, who played for the Bulls last season. "They move the ball -- draw-and-kick -- they make the extra pass and they are a really good strong-side defensive team so you have to move the ball against them."
For most of the game, Washington's ball movement consisted of Arenas or Butler squaring up against a defender -- in Chicago's case, that usually is a long-limbed, quick-footed one such as Deng -- before either taking a contested jump shot or driving into the teeth of Chicago's defense, which is backed up by center Ben Wallace, who finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks.
For an 8-minute 40-second stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters, Arenas was the only Wizard who scored, and as the Bulls put away the game with a 32-point fourth, any semblance of offensive cohesion was gone as Arenas was relegated to taking contested shots from outside or to driving and trying to work his way through a swarm of waiting Chicago defenders.
After trailing 49-44 at the half, the Wizards had an opening to get back into the game late in the quarter when Chicago guard Chris Duhon was ejected for arguing after he and Arenas got tangled up while chasing a loose ball. Referee Pat Fraher tossed Duhon after Duhon got up off the floor and took several animated steps in Fraher's direction.
Arenas made two free throws from the technicals and two more from the original foul call on Duhon and the Wizards trailed only 68-65. Arenas was only getting started, as he went on to score 18 straight Washington points in a variety of ways, including free throws, pull-up jumpers and a three-pointer.
However, after Arenas completed a three-point play with a layup, drawing the Wizards within six with 9:03 to play, the Bulls put together an 11-2 run that was fueled by three Washington turnovers and misses by Arenas, Andray Blatche and Jarvis Hayes.
After Butler scored on a layup with 3:13 remaining in the third, Arenas was the only Wizard to score until Butler made 1 of 2 free throws with 5:33 let in the game.
"Tonight they were like a machine," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "They executed, played disciplined and worked hard at both ends of the floor. We just haven't done a good job against them here on this floor. Overall, I thought we played hard but our turnovers did us in."
Washington's last win at Chicago's United Center was on May 4, 2005, in Game 5 of the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs when Arenas made a jump shot over Kirk Hinrich at the buzzer.
"When you look at the stat sheet and Arenas's game, it's hard to say we played good defense on him," Chicago Coach Scott Skiles said after Friday night's win. "But I felt like we did play good defense on him for the most part. He hit some tough shots."