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Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis get revenge on their former team as the Wizards blitz the Bulls

Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis get revenge on their former team as the Wizards blitz the Bulls

The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 134-125 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. So, the new-look Wizards might be kind of fun.

For the second straight night, they blasted an opponent with a balanced scoring effort, lots of dunks and Bobby Portis screams into the crowd.

Things, of course, won’t always be this easy. They just beat up on the Bulls one night after smashing the Cavs. Those two teams place among the four-worst records in all the NBA.

The road will get a bit tougher on Monday against the Pistons and then extremely difficult on Wednesday in Toronto in their final game before the All-Star break. 

But the early returns on the Wizards after their pair of trades on Wednesday are good. They play hard, they can score and they at least have enough to win against the bad teams.

The two straight wins follow a stretch of five losses in six games. The Wizards are 10th in the conference with a shot at the 9th-place team, Detroit, up next. At 24-32, Washington is two and a half games behind the 8th-place Miami Heat, who play the Warriors on Sunday.

2. Friday was Portis’ time to shine. On Saturday, it was all about Jabari Parker.

The new Wizards forward had a classic revenge game, tormenting his former team to the tune of 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting. He also added six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Parker clearly had an ax to grind coming into this game based on his comments the day before about his frustration with the Bulls coaching staff. And his quest for vengeance seemed to translate in a variety of powerful dunks. He wasn’t just there to score. He was there to punish the rim.

Parker led a huge effort from the Wizards bench. They scored 64 points compared to 38 for the Bulls reserves. Chasson Randle pitched in with a career-high 20 points.

The Wizards gave up a good player in Otto Porter Jr., but already it’s clear how they improved their depth in this week’s trades. They basically got three players for one in their rotation since Markieff Morris hadn’t played in weeks due to injury.

3. As expected, it was strange to see Porter in a Bulls jersey going up against his former Wizards teammates.  What was unexpected was some of the plays he made.

Porter came out with some extra zip in the first quarter. He was more aggressive than we are used to seeing him, attacking the rim and finishing through traffic. 

Porter ended up with 17 points and two steals. As much as there is to like about the Wizards’ side of the trade – they got two nice players and some much-needed financial flexibility – the Bulls did well for themselves. He is a nice fit with what they are building.

Porter is a good veteran complement to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Add in whomever they get with their 2019 first round pick, which should be a top selection, and they will have a solid group to build around. 

Porter’s contract was a problem in Washington, but they can manage it in Chicago with young players who have yet to break the bank.

4. The Wizards had their best offensive first half in over a decade. They dropped 76 points against the Bulls, their most in a first half since 2006, back when Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were lighting it up in the good old days.

The Wizards shot 57.1 percent overall in the first half and 10-for-18 from three. Their bench outdid that of the Bulls, 35-15. They blitzed them in the second quarter with 42 points.

It has helped the Wizards played Cleveland on Friday and then the Bulls, but their new-look roster has already shown some serious offensive potential. Everyone knows Parker can score and both Portis and Wes Johnson can stretch the floor.

5. There is a new Wizards injury to monitor as Jeff Green did not return after halftime with tightness in his left hip. He was replaced by Parker in the lineup to begin the third quarter.

Green can be added to the Wizards’ list of injuries that includes Troy Brown Jr., who is not expected to return until after the All-Star break due to his left ankle sprain. Then, of course, there is John Wall who is out for the year and Dwight Howard, who does not appear close to returning.


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We're still amazed by Michael Jordan's historic scoring night vs. New Jersey, days after turning 40-years-old

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We're still amazed by Michael Jordan's historic scoring night vs. New Jersey, days after turning 40-years-old

Sixteen years ago Michael Jordan delivered one of the most memorable performances of his two-year stint with the Washington Wizards. 

On February 21, 2003, Jordan dropped 43 points four days after his 40th birthday. The mark made the Jordan the first player older than 40 to record 40 points or more in a contest. 

It was also the fifth-most points he ever scored in a Wizards uniform. 

The record was made against the then-New Jersey Nets. Throughout the entire game the two teams went back-and-forth with 13 ties and 17 lead changes. That was until the Hall of Famer put the game away for Washington with the final go-ahead basket with 34 seconds to go. 

The Wizards won 89-86. 

"We hadn't really been playing well and coach has been really disappointed in the way we play and I had to take the leadership. I had to do everything I had to do to get this team to understand what winning is all about," Jordan said.

The 43 points was scored on 18-for-30 shooting, all within the 3pt arc. In the third quarter alone he scored 14 of the team's 25 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double in the contest with four steals, three assists and a block.

All 13 seasons of Jordan's career he had incredible feats. The season prior he recorded his final 50-point game at 38 years of age, which is also the oldest anyone's ever been to reach 50 points. And that came two months after he returned from retirement. 

The 2002-03 season was his last and this display was an attempt for Jordan to return to the postseason one final time. He had not been there since he was with the Chicago Bulls in 1998. 

"I've only got 28 games left in my career. I do whatever I've got to do to get into the playoffs."

Ultimately the Wizards did not make it to the playoffs with Jordan, but he sure left his mark on the organization. 


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How to watch 'Make 'Em Jump', NBC Sports Washington's exclusive mini-documentary about Rod Strickland

How to watch 'Make 'Em Jump', NBC Sports Washington's exclusive mini-documentary about Rod Strickland

All-NBA, but never an All-Star? Rod Strickland is one of the underrated and underappreciated players in NBA history. Going toe-to-toe with the league's best throughout the 1990s, the former Wizards guard brought his New York City style to the NBA and was launched to cult hero status by Wu-Tang Clan when his name was dropped in the 1997 hit "Triumph".

In the "Make 'Em Jump" mini-documentary, NBC Sports Washington dives into what pushed Strickland to that cult hero status and recognizes your favorite player's favorite player.

The mini-documentary will release exclusively on the MyTeams app on Feb. 27.

You can download the MyTeams app here to get in on the viewing action. 

Additionally, NBC Sports Washington will be featuring Strickland-centric content in our pre-, post- and in-game broadcasts on Feb. 22, 23 and 27.

To tune into NBC’s Wizards coverage, you can find your channel here, and you can live-stream broadcasts here