The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Without Bradley Beal, Wizards run out of answers in loss to the Bulls

The Bulls' Zach LaVine drives between the Wizards' Daniel Gafford, left, and Kristaps Porzingis during Wednesday's game in Chicago. LaVine scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

CHICAGO — Two-time all-star Zach LaVine was having a relatively quiet game before he sent the United Center crowd into a frenzy midway through the final quarter Wednesday night. On three straight trips, he shook free beyond the three-point arc, and each time he threw a dagger that cut the visiting Washington Wizards.

When LaVine wasn’t doing the damage in the fourth, DeMar DeRozan was. The pair combined for 26 of the Bulls’ 35 fourth-quarter points to jump-start the hosts in a 115-111 win over Washington.

The Wizards, still without injured Bradley Beal, have lost four in a row and seven of eight.

“We knew at halftime they were probably underperforming,” Wizards Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of LaVine (25 points) and DeRozan (27). “We knew those two as well as [Nikola Vucevic] were going to step up and try to be more aggressive. And all three of them were. They impacted that second half. And we still had an opportunity. ... Just couldn’t get enough stops late.”

The Wizards (11-14) looked as if they might snap their skid after Kyle Kuzma’s three-pointer gave them a 90-84 lead, their biggest of the evening. Then DeRozan and LaVine got hot.

DeRozan scored on consecutive trips to trim the margin to one. Monte Morris and Deni Avdija did their best to hold them at bay, with both teams finding another offensive gear for about a three-minute stretch.

The Wizards came out of it leading 105-104, but the Bulls still had one more answer in the form of a 7-0 run, capped by a three-point play from DeRozan that put Chicago up six.

Kristaps Porzingis had a game-high 28 points and nine rebounds, andKuzma added 21 points and five rebounds. Morris posted 17 points and eight assists, Corey Kispert chipped in 10, and Daniel Gafford scored 10 off the bench.

“They executed a bit better,” Porzingis said. “They kind of ran their stuff, got some open, decent looks, and we didn’t. We weren’t as sharp, maybe, as they were. That’s experience. That’s communication. That’s a little bit of details. They were just a bit better down the stretch.”

Vucevic scored 25 and snatched 11 boards for the Bulls.

The Wizards struggled from behind the arc (9 for 31) but were successful attacking the interior, scoring 60 points in the paint.

Here is what else to know about the Wizards’ loss:

Playing without Beal

Beal was diagnosed with a right hamstring strain Monday and is expected to miss at least a week. Beal previously missed five games in early November after entering the health and safety protocols. The team went 4-1 during that stretch and entered the Bulls game 4-2 in games without Beal this season.

“It's still a little uneasy,” Unseld said. “It is what it is. So, [we] just have to do the best we can with what we have. Not having him at times in the past gives a comfort level with certain guys and they understand they have to step up.

“They know we've been able to have some success without him. So there is a comfort level there, but it's certainly not ideal.”

Kispert started in Beal’s place, his 10th start of the season.

Scary moment

A worst-case scenario seemed to materialize in the first quarter when Porzingis checked out at the 4:59 mark and immediately headed to the locker room with an apparent ankle. He was absent the rest of the quarter before emerging from the tunnel during the break in between the first and second quarters.

The Wizards were already extremely shorthanded without Beal, Rui Hachimura and Delon Wright, so there was a sigh of relief when Porzingis checked back in at the 9:52 mark of the second quarter.

Afterward, Porzingis said the ankle was still sore.

Enter, exit the foul machine

Bulls center Andre Drummond checked out of the game early in the second quarter after picking up his fourth foul. That many fouls that early in the game is unusual — especially considering Drummond spent just five minutes on the floor.

Loading...