A night after Chicago suffered a frustrating loss to the Miami Heat, the reigning league MVP, Derrick Rose, led the Bulls into Washington D.C. for a bounce-back win against the Wizards 98-88 on Monday.
Before Monday’s contest at the Verizon Center, Rose vowed “to try to go crazy” against the Wizards - and that’s exactly what he did. On a night the Bulls were again without Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton, none performed better than D. Rose, who posted his third straight game of 30 points or more. He erupted for 13 of his season-high 35 points in the first quarter. Two of Rose’s eight assists came in the second. He added another 15 points in the third. And when the Wizards trimmed a one-time 22-point deficit to eight in the fourth, Rose connected on his free throws –a stark contrast from Sunday- and found Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer when he was under duress.
Agitated from his late-game failures on Sunday in Miami, including missing two critical foul shots that would have give Chicago the lead, Rose took the Wizards out of the game with a dazzling array of shots, including three floaters, a driving layup, spectacular reverse layup and a running bank shot. Rose was 10-of-20 from the field and hit 14-of-15 from the free throw stripe. Wizards’ interim head coach Randy Wittman, who replaced Flip Saunders last Tuesday, marveled at Rose’s ability to maneuver around Washington’s front court of 7’1” center JaVale McGee and 6’10” forward Rashard Lewis and knew early on that the Wizards No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, John Wall, was no match for the MVP.
Wall led the Wizards with 20 points, two rebounds, six assists and two steals, but committed four turnovers. Clearly, Rose was too much for the second year point guard, out of Kentucky, to handle. Chicago took a quick 21-10 lead and had a 26-16 advantage after the first quarter. Midway through the second, Washington scored seven straight to cut the lead to 36-30, but the Bulls stretched their lead to 51-40 at halftime. Chicago ran off 11 straight points in the third quarter to take a 70-49 lead with 5:24 left. Early in the fourth, the Bulls led by 19, but Washington reduced the lead to eight with 6:50 to play. Rose and Noah found Boozer for three consecutive baskets and Chicago extended their lead to 92-78. Wizards’ guard Nick Young kept things interesting with a 3-pointer, followed by a pair of jumpers, and Wall threw down a dunk for Washington’s final basket, but Rose sealed the Bulls victory by converting a pair of free throws with 30 seconds to remaining for the final score, 98-88.
The Wizards are just 4-16 on the season. They had won two of their previous three games, both against the Charlotte Bobcats, who currently have the worst record in the NBA. Washington absorbed the brunt of Rose’s frustration and couldn’t recover. Young finished with 17 points, McGee scored 16 and forward Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford provided a spark off the bench with 14 and 10, respectively. Lewis added five points, eight rebounds and an assist. The Wizards will travel to Orlando to face the disappearing Magic on Wednesday.
The Bulls improved their Eastern Conference-leading record to 18-5. Boozer finished with 18 points -including 12 in the fourth- and eight rebounds. Noah flirted with a triple-double in his fifth straight double-double, posting 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. And sharp shooter Kyle Korver, who started for just the second time as a Bull, contributed 17 points on five 3-pointers. Chicago will head to Philadelphia to take on the resurging 76ers on Wednesday.