It appears the Chicago Bulls are beginning to hit their stride down the stretch, but they'll have to slow down a hot Washington Wizards squad Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
The Wizards have won seven in a row at home, while the Bulls came up short in their previous road assignment, a 100-98 setback against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. The Bulls, though, rebounded with Sunday's 95-94 victory versus the Detroit Pistons.
Luol Deng scored 13 of his 28 points in the decisive fourth quarter and is averaging 23.6 ppg in his last five contests. Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson scored 16 points apiece for a Chicago team that is sixth in the Eastern Conference standings and has won four of the last five games.
"I was concerned about this game, coming off one yesterday and understanding how important it is to be ready," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "We dodged a bullet. We were fortunate. We got out of a hole."
Chicago trails the Atlanta Hawks, who bested the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, by one-half game. The Bulls are just 1 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for fourth.
Chicago, of course, halted Miami's 27-game winning streak last week and is hoping to get two of its key contributors back Tuesday. Center Joakim Noah is questionable against the Wizards with a foot issue and has missed five straight games. Guard Marco Belinelli (strained abdomen) has been sidelined the previous four games and is also listed as questionable.
The Bulls will visit Brooklyn on Thursday in hopes of making some ground in the East standings and are 19-16 on the road.
Washington kept its home winning streak intact with Sunday's 109-92 victory versus the Toronto Raptors.
Rookie Bradley Beal scored 24 points off the bench and Emeka Okafor ended with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"They kept leaving me open and my teammates just kept finding me," said Beal, who had missed the previous five games. "I was able to knock down some shots. I stayed confident, and the ball ended up in my hands a lot."
John Wall scored 18 points and handed out 10 assists for the Wizards. Wall is averaging 29.5 ppg in his last four games.
The Wizards ended a two-game slide and have won seven of the last 11 games. They're also 20-17 at the Verizon Center this season.
Washington and Chicago have split the first two meetings this season with each team winning on its home floor. The Bulls, though, are 12-4 in the last 16 contests in this series and have won four of the last five trips to D.C.
The Bulls will host the Wizards in the regular season finale on April 17.