When asked about the nature of Tomas Satoransky's departure from the Wizards last offseason, Washington head coach Scott Brooks was frank, yet gracious.
"He got a great contract," Brooks said before the Bulls bounced the Wizards 115-106 Wednesday evening. "He came [to Washington D.C.] and we knew his long-term goal was to be a starting point guard in the league. We don't have John [Wall] yet this year — or maybe not at all this year — but John's our point guard, so he was never going to be able to fulfill that part of his goal.
"But Tomas, he was great. He's tough, he's competitive, he plays hard, he's not about the stat sheet, he's about making the right plays."
Funny, because every time the Bulls face the Wizards, Satoransky's row of the box score winds up awfully full. In Washington on Dec. 18, Satoransky tallied 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 7-for-11 shooting (2-for-3 from 3). In Chicago on Jan. 15: 18 points, five assists, 5-for-9 and seven trips to the charity stripe without a miss. Both ended in Bulls' wins.
Brooks is right: Stat-sheet stuffing isn't in Satoransky's character. Still, it's hard to think those two outings were purely coincidental. Satoransky spent the first three years of his NBA career with the Wizards before signing on with the Bulls on a three year, $30 million pact last summer, and he is open about his appreciation for D.C. and the connections he made there. No one would fault him for these games mattering a little more.
"It's like extra energy, you know, seeing them [the Wizards] out there," Satoransky said. "Obviously, playing in D.C. it's even more, it just brings the memories, and I see a lot of people that I met over there. But it's something to spice it up a little bit, a little extra motivation."
Anyone who's watched a game of Bulls basketball this season knows the boost an energized Satoransky can give this team. In this one, that was deepest felt in the second half, when the Bulls turned seven Wizards turnovers into 16 points and pulled away to pick up a much-needed victory.
"Today I felt a little bit of extra energy, especially in that second half. I know everybody was a little down cause the schedule is kinda brutal, but I actually felt pretty fresh," Satoransky said. "We locked in defensively. That's when our easiest points come in.
"And I think we executed pretty well, especially in that fourth quarter. Something that we have to work on during the whole season and we've been having problems there but I think we were well organized today and we were in our spots. We were able to make the right plays in the right moments."
The Bulls won the second half by a margin of 60-46, outshooting the Wizards 48.8% to 40.5% and hitting 10 3-pointers to the visitors' five. Satoransky had 12 of his 18 points in the final two periods. The win moves the Bulls to 2-6 in the month of January — a necessary pickup, especially with the dog days fully setting in.
And though Satoransky is nothing but laudatory about D.C. and the Wizards organization, he brought the nasty to them midway through the second, before the rout was even on:
SATO SHEEEEEEEESH 😱 pic.twitter.com/D0cEvjLfHE— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 16, 2020
"I saw the lane, and I saw my guy coming, Ian Mahimni, saw the chance to dunk on him," Satoransky said with a smile after the game.
The Bulls face the Wizards twice more this season, once on Feb. 11, then again on Feb. 23. Satoransky undoubtedly has his calendar marked.
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