Resilience and balance helped the Chicago Bulls avoid the franchise’s first 0-4 start since 2007-08 with Tuesday’s 115-107 road win against the Washington Wizards.
As the same two teams prepare to face one another again in USA’s capital on Thursday, the winless Wizards will try to channel some of the Bulls’ vibe.
“The only way we can get out of this as a team is if we stick together,” Washington forward Davis Bertans said. “Being negative about the four losses isn’t going to help us come back and win games.”
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While Washington received the usual heroics from new acquisition Russell Westbrook, who notched his third triple-double in as many appearances, defensive lapses and struggles from long range ultimately added up.
Chicago capitalised on Washington’s 1-for-11 effort from 3-point range in the second quarter to take the lead, and the Bulls maintained control as the Wizards continued to misfire from deep, finishing 10-for-37 (27.0 percent).
Sharp ball movement steered the Bulls to 41.7 percent accuracy (15-for-36) from behind the arc. All but one of Chicago’s seven double-figure scorers drilled at least two treys.
After entering Tuesday averaging an NBA-high 19.7 turnovers a game, the Bulls committed just 14 against the Wizards, benefiting from the diversity of new coach Billy Donovan’s offensive scheme.
“I think I always like the offense that allows you to cut, run, move the ball,” Chicago guard Tomas Satoransky said. “We play a lot of times through our big men when we have to screen for each other. I think that makes the offense not stagnant. We always try to move from side to side. I think that gives us much better options.”
Matching up against Wizards standout Bradley Beal, who navigated possible concussion concerns to finish with 29 points, Zach LaVine led Chicago with 23 points and added six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Coby White, who duelled with the veteran Westbrook, chipped in 18 points, six assists and five rebounds with only two turnovers.
“It usually takes some time for young teams, especially with a short preseason, to get in an offense more comfortably,” Satoransky said. “But I think we showed it [Tuesday]. We were aggressive.”
Lauri Markkanen nearly made it eight Bulls in double figures, but he aggravated a left calf contusion early in the third quarter and left with nine points. His status Thursday is uncertain.
Thaddeus Young was eligible to play after missing the first three games with an infection in his lower left leg, but he remained on the bench.
Bertans scored 20 points to give the Wizards another option beyond their star frontcourt, but Beal and Westbrook may have to do even more to get the team into the win column. Washington is off to its worst start since the 2012-13 team lost its first 12 games of the season.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks hopes the intangibles Westbrook provides – including the mentoring of young players – will augment his impact on the stat sheet.
“We haven’t won a game,” Brooks said. “But he’s teaching these young players how important our job is, and that’s priceless.”
Watch the meeting of the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards live on Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Main Event from 10pm on New Year’s Eve.
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