Unlikely heroes lead Bulls past Wizards
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

Unlikely heroes lead Bulls past Wizards

by - Senior Writer -

WASHINGTON, D.C.— With two games left in the season and their spot in the play-in tournament already determined, the Chicago Bulls (39-42) took a different approach to Friday's game. They chose to give some of their regular players some much-needed time off. Leading scorer Demar DeRozan was one of those players, as were Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso. Throw in Ayo Dosnumu continuing to miss some time with a quad injury, and the Bulls were about as short-handed as can be.

Typically, this would be a recipe for disaster, but when you are facing a team like the Washington Wizards (15-66), sometimes you can get away with not playing your best. Despite a much different-looking lineup than most fans are accustomed to, you would never have guessed this wasn't the regular starting lineup, as several Bulls had career-high games.

That included Dalen Terry, Javonte Green, and Adama Sanogo, while Jalen Carter put together his best showing as a Bull. That alone helped the Bulls battle back from an early first-quarter deficit as they held off the Wizards 129-127. In an era where offense reigns supreme, it was the offense that came to play right from the start, as neither team wanted to play defense in the first.

Whether it was the Bulls odd lineup trying to figure out how to play together or a hungry Wizards team to start things off, the teams combined for 73 first quarter points with the Bulls trailing 40-33 after one. In the second quarter, Chicago began to flex their muscles on both ends of the floor as they continued to play well offensively with 32 points, while the defense allowed only 22 to give the Bulls a 68-65 lead at the half.

It was more of the same in the second half for the Bulls offense as they scored at least 30 points every quarter and rallied from a five-point fourth-quarter deficit to pick up another win. Making his third consecutive start in place of Dosunmu was Green who continues to look like a completely different player since returning to Chicago. Less than one week after dropping a career-high 21 points, Green was at it again as he picked up a new career-high 24 points.

Green was about as efficient as you can be, hitting 10-15 shots including three from distance as he continues to be the Bulls best player in April. Joining him was a plethora of double-digit scorers, including Coby White, who was one of the rare regulars in the starting five. White seems to be returning to his midseason form at the perfect time, as he added 20 points despite not connecting on a single triple.

Chicago also saw Dalen Terry drop a career-high 16 points in his first career start, and Torrey Craig delivered a strong 11-point, 15-rebound showing to give the Bulls four great starting options. However, Chicago was more than just those four guys, as they picked up 51 points from their bench, with two players grabbing 42 of those points.

Carter picked a great time to have his best game as a Bull, connecting on four triples while scoring 20 points. Carter also dished out 12 assists, as this was the type of game the Bulls had been waiting for. The real story of the game was Sanogo's play, as he finally saw extended minutes in an NBA game.

After dominating in the G-League all season, a lot of talk surrounded Sanogo and whether or not he deserved a shot in the NBA. Sanogo came into the game Friday with minimal experience, but did look good in the games he played in. Friday saw Sanogo look like his G-League self as he dropped 22 points in 31 minutes while also hauling in 20 rebounds. He is a guy worth watching next season, as he could be an intriguing piece to keep on this roster. Chicago also saw Henri Drell (9 Points) with a career-high, and Onuralp Bitim makes his first career start.

Of all the teams that have had rough seasons, the Wizards may be the worst, as their record doesn't indicate how bad they are. This team is stuck in a weird situation where they have no stars and no distinct vision of where to go from here. Like the Bulls, Washington had six players drop double-figure points, with some of those performances coming from players expected to be part of this team's future.

Corey Kispert and Deni Avdija led Washington with 23 points, and Avdija added 12 rebounds for a strong double-double. The same can be said of Patrick Baldwin Jr. and his 19-point, 12-rebound performance, as he continues to improve with each passing game. Washington also saw Tristan Vukcevic add 19 points, with Johnny Davis picking up 15, as all five Washington starters had at least 15.

Unlike the Bulls, whose bench did a ton of damage, the Wizards didn't have that same success, which is arguably where this game was won and lost. Jared Butler did have 15 points to led the second unit, but with only 13 points coming from the rest of the bench, Washington comes up just short in another loss.

Chicago will look to close out the regular season on a three-game winning streak as they head to New York to take on the Knicks on Sunday.

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