WASHINGTON, D.C. — Derrick Rose’s inbounds pass resulted in a give-and-go with Mike Dunleavy, but both Rose and Dunleavy were missing the crucial part of the unintended play — Rose getting his feet back inbounds.
Just when you think the Bulls are close to getting their feet back on solid ground, boom, John Wall embarrasses you with a triple-double performance.
Just when you think the Bulls are getting back to some form of relative health, boom, Taj Gibson grabs his already-tight right hamstring and heads to the locker room after gamely playing on it, missing the second half.
It wasn’t a contest for most of the night because the Bulls failed to contest anything the Washington Wizards did in the Wizards’ 117-96 win at the Verizon Center, as the Wizards surged to within 1 1/2 games of the eighth spot in the East currently occupied by the Bulls.
The Wizards put a 40-point whipping on the other team tied for eighth, the Detroit Pistons, two nights earlier.
Clearly surging and playing at a different pace and speed was Wall, as you wonder if the Bulls were looking ahead to a four-game homestand starting Thursday night at the United Center.
If they were, Wall’s blur-like speed sent the Bulls back home, heads spinning. His eyes forced a cheating-over defense to leave shooters open on skip passes, leading to the Wizards hitting 13 triples at a 62-percent clip.
“It was an all-out sprint. Show a wall to Wall,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And we didn’t do it. It’s a concerted effort to get back.”
Reserve Garrett Temple hit five of them and was perfect in the first half as the Wizards led by 11. Wall himself, a notoriously bad 3-point shooter, hit two of his own, and Otto Porter had three triples.
“It’s disappointing going into this game, the biggest key if you want to win this game is getting back into transition,” Hoiberg said. “It’s all we talked about.
“We didn’t get back, didn’t execute, and they got it right down our throats. Got right to the rim or spread it out for open shots. That was the game.”
Wall was at a different level, chasing down Jimmy Butler for a block on a fast break, hitting outside jumpers and despite his eight turnovers tattooing his name on the game, being a plus-38 while on the floor.
And it didn’t help that the Bulls had turnover issues with 16 and issues altogether, as they shot under 40 percent and couldn’t do much right from the jump.
There was a little hope after a super-slow start, as the Bulls looked to restore order.
Rose’s drives in his first game back and some crisp execution resulted in a couple triples for Doug McDermott, as the Bulls took a 39-38 lead. It stretched to 43-38 on a Justin Holiday layup before it began to dramatically turn, predictably.
“We knew it was coming. That was a point of emphasis Fred stressed to us before the game,” said McDermott, who led the Bulls with 20. “We weren’t able to execute. That’s on us, not on him.”
It went downhill from there, as the Wizards erased the lead two minutes later and stretched it to 13 before halftime. It became evident Pau Gasol was a valuable piece as easy perimeter shots weren’t easy to find and those precious backdoor cuts he created with McDermott and Butler weren’t available.
Rose and Butler weren’t able to piece together consistent offense, making it easier for the Wizards’ defense to camp out in the lane and shut down minute driving lanes.
Butler shot 4-for-12 and Rose 7-for-19.
“I’m terrible,” Butler said. “I can’t make a shot as you can see, but it will come. I don’t expect it to right away, but I need it to come sooner rather than later. That’s why I’m here.”
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A lot of stagnant offense was the prevalent action, and the Wizards easily ran away.
“It hurts (McDermott) more than anything,” said Hoiberg of the lack of ball movement. “A team like this, the pressures, you miss Pau. He had a triple-double the last time we played. Gotta play through the elbows.”
Cristiano Felecio and Bobby Portis had to play big minutes when Gibson went out in the second quarter after clutching his right hamstring, clearly ill-equipped to handle the physicality of Nene and the end-to-end speed of Wall.
“The guys that come in have to do their job,” Rose said. “We know that we want to be in the playoffs, and we have to take it one game at a time. Find ways to manipulate the game.”
They can’t manipulate the standings or the lack of healthy bodies in suits or away from the team — as the Wizards are yet another team breathing down their necks.