Basketball is a team sport, but the media makes it about individual head to head rivalries. John Wall, for the first time in his career, got to be the winner when Derrick Rose was on the same floor, leading the Washington Wizards to a 102-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls lose a second straight game, once more playing very badly on offense. They shot just 38.6% from the field, making it two consecutive game of sub .400 shooting. They were held to only 13 points in the first quarter and played catch up from that moment going forward. Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol were ice cold. The Bulls don’t need all three them at once to be great, but they can’t win without any of them even being close to their regular level.
On the other side of the court, Marcin Gortat, who often plays very well against the Bulls, led his team with 21 points and 13 rebounds. John Wall, who is leading the Eastern guards in votes for the All-Star game, scored 16 points to go with 12 assists. Nene also had a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, as the Wizards front court showed for a second time that it can more than handle the Bulls’ front line when everyone is healthy.
Gortat and Nene outscored Noah and Gasol in paint points 24-8. Noah and Gasol were held to just 30.8% from the paint, but the thing that hurt the Bulls the most was the Wizards’ catch-and-shoot shooting. They made 8-of-14 3-pointers on catch-and-shoot attempts and overall scored 38 points that way, 10.7 points more than their season average, placing them at 10th in the NBA. The Bulls scored 28 points that way on only 47.1% from the field.
John Wall is leading the NBA in double doubles with 21 so far this season. The last time a guard led the league in double doubles it was John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, which occurred in the 1994-1995 season. Anthony Davis is tied with Wall for the lead having 21, followed by Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic with 20 so far this season.
Every time we seem to figure out the Bulls have found the way to play the kin of basketball that will put them on top of the East, they find a way to set doubts in our minds about them. Two consecutive losses of 16 points or more don’t help the expectations of them finally contending for a championship again come to life.