WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 126-114 on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. It's not often in any sport a match-up between two teams that entered a game each 15-plus games under .500 holds playoff implications, but such is life in the NBA's Eastern Conference where the final postseason spots will be filled not necessarily by good teams, but ones who end up being the least bad.
Both the Wizards and Bulls are essentially just as close to being the worst team in the NBA by record as they are to the playoff picture. But eight teams have to make the playoffs and the Wizards got a little bit closer to being one of them on Tuesday night.
The Wizards led by as many as 21 points, only to see that cut down to six in the fourth quarter. But they ran away late and hung on to win their fourth game in six tries.
The Wizards are now 9-9 going back to Jan. 4. Despite being just 19-33 on the season, they have leveled out in recent weeks to put themselves within striking range of the playoffs, now ninth in the East.
2. The early returns on point guard Shabazz Napier continue to be good. The veteran point guard who came over in a deadline deal had 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting. He had 12 points by halftime.
Though Napier has had a modest NBA career so far, don't forget he was billed as a microwave scorer coming out of the University of Connecticut. So far already in Washington he has shown he can provide that effect in small doses.
The Wizards really just need him to push the pace, run the offense and provide some level of resistance on defense. Scoring nights like he had on Tuesday are a bonus.
3. Tomas Satoransky is starting to build quite the resume against his former team.
Tuesday was the third time he's played against the Wizards since signing away with the Bulls in free agency, and it was the third time he's scored 17 points or more. Three of Satoransky's seven-highest scoring games this season have come against Washington.
He had 19 points in this one to go along with eight assists. He shot 7-for-12.
Satoransky wasn't always happy with his role on the Wizards, so maybe there is some extra motivation. Whatever it is, he has become a problem for them. Through three games vs. Washington, he's averaging 18 points which is quite a bit more than his overall clip for the season (10.1).
4. It looks like Ian Mahinmi is going to get another NBA contract after this season.
That may have sounded ludicrous just months ago, as he was set to enter the fourth and final year of his infamous free-agent deal with the Wizards. But does it sound crazy now, like at all?
His renaissance continued against the Bulls with 15 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. He shot 7-for-10 from the field. And that was on top some solid defense around the rim, despite the fact he didn't block a shot.
Mahinmi is healthy, in shape and making an impact on both ends of the floor. He's 33 years old, but may some NBA life left in him.
5. There was an update on Thomas Bryant's injury status pregame. Well, sort of.
Bryant was re-evaluated on Monday and got good news, or at least no bad news. Head coach Scott Brooks was fairly vague about it. What he said was that Bryant did not require another MRI or X-ray on his right foot, which is a positive sign.
But as for when Bryant returns, Brooks wasn't sure. It sounds like he will have at least a decent chance to play in their first game back from the All-star break on Feb. 21.
There is also a new injury to report on. Big man Anzejs Pasecniks was listed as inactive due to left hip tightness. That had not been previously disclosed.
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