With Jordan back in Washington recuperating from knee surgery,
the Wizards blew another one Friday night. And to MJ's old team, no
Travis Best made a pair of 21-footers with less than two minutes
left, and Jalen Rose sank four free throws down the stretch as the Chicago Bulls held off the Wizards 90-81.
It was the seventh straight loss for the Wizards, who are fighting for a playoff spot.
"We're starting to look around a bit, but we have to realize that help is in this room and nowhere else," said Popeye Jones, who finished with four points and six rebounds.
"We need to look at this as a personal challenge. No one in this league feels sorry for us. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, we just have to go out and do it."
The loss came despite a gutty effort from Richard Hamilton, who had 30 points in 40 minutes despite being a gametime decision with flulike symptoms.
"All day yesterday, I had no appetite. I was throwing up," Hamilton said. "At gametime I thought, 'We need a win so bad,' and I knew I just had to play through it."
The Bulls got a breakout game from rookie Eddy Curry, who set career highs with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Curry also matched his high with three blocked shots.
Rose added 14 points, and Marcus Fizer had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who have won more games (16) than they did all of last season.
"It feels good. It does a lot for my confidence," said Curry,
the fourth overall pick in last summer's draft. "Every game we
play well does a lot for us. We need games like this."
Having a little more breathing room at the end might be nice,
though. The Bulls led 79-69 with 5:08 left only to have Washington
rally. Tyronn Lue hit an 18-footer, and Hamilton made a pair of free throws and a jumper.
Etan Thomas made two free throws, and Hamilton hit another pair
to pull Washington to 80-79 with 2:04 left.
"It's tough right now," Hamilton said. "These are games we have to get. Without MJ, we have to learn to win."
Instead, it was Best coming through in the clutch. Best missed his first five shots, but he drilled a 21-footer with 1:51 left. Thirty seconds later, he hit another from the same spot to give the Bulls an 84-79 lead.
"The momentum was really in their favor," Best said. "They clawed their way back into the game and we were just hurting for some points. They were timely shots."
The Wizards had the ball with 37 seconds left, but Tyrone Nesby couldn't inbound in time. Chicago got it on the turnover, and the
Wizards were forced to foul.
Rose made four free throws, sealing the victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Bulls, who are 4-2 since trading for Rose and Best on Feb. 19.
"It's extremely important because we want to establish a new pattern," Rose said, "a pattern of success."
Jordan's new team had faced his old one twice previously this season, beating Chicago each time. And the last time they met, Chicago was held to a franchise-low 17.2 percent shooting in the first half.
This was a much different game. Besides playing without Jordan, the Wizards also were missing two injured big men in Jahidi White and Brendan Haywood. And Curry took advantage.
After spotting Washington a 12-2 lead, Curry hit a baseline
jumper that sparked a 21-4 Chicago run. By the time the first
quarter was over, the Bulls were up 23-16. Curry had 16 points and
12 rebounds at halftime, matching his previous career highs.
"Regardless of who's playing, I'm going to try and make my
presence felt," Curry said. "With him out of the game, it was
that much easier."
Hamilton was 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. ... Bulls
rookie Tyson Chandler hyperextended his left pinkie finger in the
first quarter and didn't return. He also needed three stitches to
close a cut in his hand. ... The Bulls waived veteran guard Greg
Anthony before the game, clearing the way for him to sign with a
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