Key Legislature: Wizards 105 at Bulls 99 — Uncommonly Hot Bulls Rain 3s, Lose Anyway | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 105 at Bulls 99 — Uncommonly Hot Bulls Rain 3s, Lose Anyway

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Updated: January 15, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 39 versus the Bulls in Chicago,
via Chris Thompson from the mid-Atlantic.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Chris Thompson.

As strategies for beating the Bulls go, “let Derrick Rose burn the building to the ground” is at least adventurous. Still, I think it’s time to admit coach Randy Wittman may be on to something. After all, if Derrick Rose shot his season average from deep (25%) Wednesday night, this final is not close. For that matter, if the Bulls as a team were something less than red-hot from 3 and more like their usual selves (35%), this one’s a laugher. It turns out you can do a lot worse than forcing Derrick Rose to be a volume scorer.

It will be all too tempting for Bulls fans to point to the absence of Mike Dunleavy or the early departure of Joakim Noah for the L—those were factors, to be sure. But it’s hard to imagine Dunleavy elevating Chicago’s perimeter shooting (his specialty) much beyond what it achieved Wednesday night, and, anyway, isn’t Noah that guy Nene worked over on both ends in Washington?

Rose came out of the gate just ridiculously locked-in and dropped 17 points in the first quarter alone. It felt like the Wizards might be in real trouble—the Bulls were building an early lead without a whole lot of involvement from Rose’s teammates, which maybe suggested Chicago would have another gear for later in the game, the engagement of which would certainly spell doom for Washington’s chances at a comeback.

It was not to be. The wisdom of Washington’s defensive approach bore itself out in the long run, and Wittman (along with Paul Pierce) deserves enormous credit for keeping his players composed and engaged despite Rose’s outrageous first half. Again and again Washington refused to over-help on Rose, stayed more-or-less glued to his teammates, and controlled the defensive glass, and, sure enough, Rose was not able to score 106 points all by himself. And while he rained hell-fire and torched the net, Washington’s defenders calmly and decisively put the clamps on his teammates, holding all non-Rose Bulls to just 38.6 percent shooting from the floor, and a nightmarish 36.6 percent on two-point attempts.

Behind Rose’s touch and with half of the second quarter gone, the Bulls had established an 11-point lead—their largest of the night—against a seemingly out-of-sync Wizards bench still laboring under Martell Webster’s recent struggles and frustratingly cool shooting from Rasual Butler. Then, of course, Wittman reinserted his starters, the Wizards dialed up their defense, and from that point on Washington outscored the Bulls 73-56. That number would be considerably more lopsided had the Bulls not made five tough 3-pointers in the final frame, continuing a game-long trend of Bulls shooters finding the bottom of the net from deep even on contested looks. Instead of panicking at the illusion of offensive firepower from Chicago’s shooters, the Wizards steadily went about their business, shared the ball, and methodically outclassed their opponent—as they had for the majority of the game.

So, there’s a way of looking at this result as the product of perhaps Bradley Beal’s early hot hand keeping the Wizards afloat, or Nene dishing a season-high eight assists, or Pierce going a combined 11-for-11 on 2-pointers and free-throws, but that’s not the real story. (John Wall hasn’t even been mentioned—he was pretty good, once again.) The real story of this impressive road win was Rose’s blistering start and Chicago’s relentless 3-point shooting. After all, without those factors, this game was a wipeout, a virtual continuation of the January 9th meeting between these teams at the Verizon Center, a game notable for how thoroughly Washington’s starters outclassed Chicago’s. Had Rose played to his recent norm from the start instead of just down the stretch, the games would be virtual carbon copies of one another. It’s fair to say the Wizards have this budding rivalry firmly in hand.

Vine’d.

 

Chris Thompson