Following Friday's home win over Orlando, the riding-high Wizards blew into the Windy City seeking consecutive victories for the first time the season. After playing in Chicago without its leading scorer, Washington must start such streaking thoughts all over again.
Emeka Okafor tallied 11 points and 18 rebounds, but without Jordan Crawford Washington's offense disappeared in the second and fourth quarters as the Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls 87-77 on Saturday.
Crawford, who scored 27 points in 34 minutes against the Magic, sat out Washington's final game of 2012 with a sore left ankle. Bradley Beal paced five double figure scorers with 14 points, but the Wizards (4-24) went ice cold late and shot 36.5 percent from the field en route to their ninth loss in 10 games.
Down 13 points in the third quarter, the Wizards scrapped back to 79-76 with 5:19 remaining on Okafor's tip, but scored only one point from there. Washington missed its final nine shots and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter - none in the final 4:47 - after totaling only 13 in the second.
Kevin Seraphin scored 12 points, Nene and Martell Webster each had 10 for the Wizards, who offset their shooting woes by grabbing 56 rebounds, 16 offensive.
Seraphin led all scorers with 10 points before halftime, but the Wizards scored only 13 points in the second quarter on 4 of 21 shooting and entered the locker room trailing 45-39.
Chicago's lead ballooned to 60-47 midway through the second quarter. The Wizards stormed back with an 11-0 spurt capped by consecutive Okafor jumpers only for the Bulls to score the next seven points. After Okafor's fourth quarter tipped pulled Washington within three, Belinelli drained a 3-pointer. Nene's free throw with 4:47 left capped Washington's scoring.
Marco Belinelli scored 17 points as the Bulls (16-12) snapped their two-game losing skid.
The Wizards next play New Year's Day (6:00 p.m.) at home against Dallas.
*Rewarded for his strong effort against the Magic, Garrett Temple moved into the starting lineup, replacing Shelvin Mack. The 6-foot-6 guard turned in a credible performance, but after making his first six shots against Orlando, he missed eight of 11 against Chicago. Temple finished with eight points, nine rebounds and five assists, but also committed four of the Wizards 17 turnovers.
*Early on Beal seem to inherit Crawford's confidence, sparking a 16-4 first quarter run along with Nene and Seraphin for a 22-14 lead. However, the rookie struggled defensively against the crafty Richard Hamilton and Belinelli. Playing for the first time in 13 games, the never-stop-moving Hamilton scored nine points in limited action while Belinelli led Chicago with a plus-16.
*Meanwhile Beal struggles from beyond the arc continued, missing all three of his 3-point attempts. He has not made a shot from beyond the arc since Dec. 15, the day before Kirk Cousins quarterbacked the Redskins. In the subsequent five-game stretch, Beal is 0-15 from 3-point range.
*The fact that Washington stayed close without Crawford - not to mention Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, A.J. Price and John Wall - reminded us what we already knew: as long as Nene plays, the Wizards can hang. The Brazilian big man grabbed nine rebounds, but missed four of six free throw attempts.
*New plan: If the Wizards find themselves in a last second situation, let Mack shoot. Mack's pull-up jumper beat the second quarter buzzer and his driving bank shot did the same in the third. Called up from the D-League with Temple on Christmas Day, the Wizards 2011 second-round pick had seven points and five assists with one turnover in 20 minutes.