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Slumping Bulls look to bounce back against Wizards

Sportsnaut
Mar 27, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards forward Corey Kispert (24) looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After losing three of four to start a five-game road trip, the Chicago Bulls hope to salvage another victory — and feel better about their push for the Eastern Conference playoffs — when they visit the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

The Bulls left New York late Monday night after a bitter defeat, having relinquished an early double-digit lead before a comeback bid fell short in a 109-104 loss to the Knicks.

“We can’t have consistent lapses where we let our offense dictate our defense and let teams get in a rhythm,” Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan said.

While DeRozan (37 points) and Zach LaVine (27) boosted the Bulls on combined 20-for-43 shooting and Nikola Vucevic contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds, Chicago (43-32) ultimately faltered, falling into a tie for fifth place in the conference with the Toronto Raptors.

Chicago, which committed 14 turnovers to the Knicks’ six, is eager to regroup. After Tuesday, the Bulls will play five of their final six regular-season games at home.

“Every game kind of has its own life. Every possession has its own life,” the Bulls’ Patrick Williams said. “I mean, today has nothing to do with tomorrow.”

Washington is coming off a 123-115 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in the opener of a four-game homestand. The Wizards have won two straight for the first time since a three-game surge from Jan. 9-12. They are hoping to heat up after a stretch that saw them lose eight out of nine.

Wizards rookie Corey Kispert blitzed the Warriors for a career-high 25 points, including 16 in the first half.

“He got going early, was shooting the ball with confidence,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I know he’s had a couple of rough games and he comes in and gets extra shots, so it’s not a mystery he has a terrific game (Sunday).

“He’s not shy, he’s not afraid of the moment. I know sometimes when you miss shots, there’s a little self-doubt, you start overthinking it. But he’s got enough confidence, he’s put enough time to trust himself, and he stepped up.”

Kispert drilled a career-best six 3-pointers as Washington went 16-for-28 from long range. At 57.1 percent, it marked the team’s best effort from deep this season.

“The game slows down immediately,” Kispert said. “You feel like every shot you take is going in and just things like that. To see the way that my shot-making early allowed other guys to score and have freedom was really good, too. That was part of the reason we had such a great offensive effort against a great team. (It) did nothing but help us throughout the entire game.”

The Wizards will be without Kyle Kuzma (right knee tendinitis) on Tuesday for the sixth game in a row, though he did return to practice on Monday.

Chicago is aiming to sweep the three-game season series. The Bulls prevailed 120-119 in Washington on Jan. 1 before winning 130-122 on their home floor six days later. LaVine led Chicago in scoring in both contests, putting up 35 points and then 27.

–Field Level Media