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Confident Bulls charge into matchup with Wizards

Jan 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) drives the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

A tough road loss isn’t about to discourage the Chicago Bulls, who appear to be on the upswing at the season’s midway point. And they will look to return to the win column when they visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

Chicago had won eight of 11 games before it came out on the losing end of a 107-99 decision against the Boston Celtics on Monday.

Zach LaVine led Chicago with 27 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Chicago, which trailed by two points with two minutes remaining against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics.

“We’re showing that we can compete with all the top teams in this league,” Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan said. “That’s a plus right there that we’ve just got to use going into this next half of the season and really turn it up and take advantage of everything we learned from these first 41 games.”

DeRozan scored 13 points in 23 minutes before exiting midway through the third quarter with a strained right quadriceps. The Bulls will be closely monitoring the five-time All-Star, who is listed as day-to-day and has not missed a game this season.

“If I leave out of a game, it’s something serious,” DeRozan said. “I play through a lot that I don’t mention. My whole career, I’ve been stubborn when it comes to that. I just want to always be on the floor.”

Chicago has split its first two meetings this season against Washington, which will be without leading scorer Bradley Beal again. The three-time All-Star has missed five of the team’s past six games with a strained left hamstring. He is set to be reevaluated Thursday.

The Wizards lost their third straight Monday when the New Orleans Pelicans cruised to a 132-112 victory.

Kristaps Porzingis had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who committed 20 turnovers leading to 39 points.

“Thirty-nine points off turnovers, that’s tough to overcome. A lot of them I thought were just careless, just unforced,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

Monte Morris, who tallied 13 points and nine assists in the loss, said the Wizards need to be more cohesive.

“A few times we’re trying to dribble in tight spaces, a few times we’re fake cutting — you’ve got to give yourself up, or you’ve got to pop,” Morris said. “We’ve got to get on top of that and trust our instinct. Moral of the story, we play together, the ball will be popping.”

Daniel Gafford scored 13 points before exiting late with a right ankle sprain. He is listed as day-to-day.

Gafford has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.

Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging career-highs in points (21.3) and assists (3.8), scored 19 points against New Orleans before fouling out.

Chicago has won 12 of the past 16 matchups against Washington since the start of the 2018-19 season, with 14 of those games decided by single digits.

–Field Level Media