WASHINGTON (AP) Playing their first game without Dwyane Wade, the Chicago Bulls almost pulled off an improbable comeback against the Washington Wizards.
That's small consolation for a struggling team fighting for a playoff spot.
Bradley Beal scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, John Wall dished out a career-high 20 assists to go with 14 points, and the Wizards held on to defeat the Bulls 112-107 on Friday night.
Minus Wade, whose fractured elbow will keep him out for the rest of the regular season, the Bulls were down 19 points at halftime before getting as close as one.
"I hate this word, `soft.' I hate it, but that's exactly what we were," Butler said of his team's start. "They beat us to every 50-50 ball, worked our tail in transition, we turned the ball over. Those things that we've talked about all year long replayed in that first half."
Chicago rallied and eventually had a chance to tie it, but a well-guarded Butler missed a 3-pointer from the wing with 3.9 seconds left.
"I'll take that shot," Butler said. "Maybe I should've side-stepped a little bit. You can say all this stuff now, but I had a great look at it."
Butler finished with 28 points and Robin Lopez added a season-high 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who began the night in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, and have lost seven of eight.
Wall, playing despite spraining his left foot in Wednesday's loss to Dallas, sank four free throws in the final minute, including two with 1.8 seconds left.
"It was solely attributed to John," Smith said of his output. "He was distributing the ball to everybody."
Washington, 21-4 in its last 25 games, had lost two straight, allowing 119 and 112 points.
"We got back to defending the right way, guarding our guy individually," Beal said. "They made some tough shots and some big 3's here and there, but for the most part I thought we did a solid job.
The Wizards led 49-40 late in the first half when Smith's jumper started a 10-0 run that was capped by Wall's 3-pointer that circled the rim and dropped as the half ended.
Those were Wall's only points of the half, but he had 12 assists.
"There's only a few guys in the league that can dominate a game with passing, and he's one of them," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
Butler hit a 3 to pull Chicago to within one with 39.7 seconds left before Otto Porter's two free throws put Washington up 110-107 with 18.4 seconds to go.