Dave Johnson: Blatche Leads Wizards Past Bulls

Dave Johnson: Blatche Leads Wizards Past Bulls
February 23, 2010, 2:51 am
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Monday, February 22, 2010 9:48pm

Bulls vs. Wizards Game Highlights

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington---For the Washington Wizards it was another night at home, another standing ovation, and another victory. Fighting through theloss of Josh Howard to injury in the first quarter and a bad second quarter, the Wizards persevered for a 101-95 win over the Chicago Bulls.Andray Blatche led the Wizards in scoring with game-high 25-points including nine in a pivotal third quarter when the Wizards outscored the Bulls 31-16 to erase a ten-point half time deficit. In short Blatche is playing like an All-Star.Let me tell you one thing, it was just so crazy. When all these guys (players acquired in trades) got here the chemistry was like weve been together since the beginning of the season, Blatche explained. We all have one thing in mind and thats winning. We all are working hard together competing and everything is paying off well for us.Blatche also had 11-rebounds and James Singleton, one of the newcomers Blatche referred to, pulled in a season high 12 rebounds as the Wizards won the battle of the boards 43-36 against the NBAs best rebounding team.Derrick Rose tried to rescue the Bulls in the fourth quarter when he scored nine of his 22 points, but the Wizards were able to hold the Bulls scoreless the final 1:55 of the game. Flip Murray added 16 points including a three pointer to punctuate a 15-3 run to bring the Bulls to with one-point at 95-95.For the Wizards it was their third-straight win at home and their fourth consecutive game scoring at least 100-points. The teams ability to thrive was marked by its resilience after Howard suffered a strained left knee just eight minutes into the game.Howard had sprinted up court on the break and landed awkwardly when he tried to catch an outlet pass from Mike Miller. Hampered by ankle problems in Dallas, Howard had showed renewed bounce in his step with the Wizards and was off to another strong start with seven points and intensity on defense including one blocked shot.After Howards forced exit the Wizards seemed unsure. The Bulls closed the first quarter on a 9-6 run and then seized control in the second quarter. At one point in the second the Bulls made eight consecutive shots while the Wizards committed seven turnovers that led to nine Bulls points and a 56-46 deficit at the break.To be down 10 and lose Josh (Howard), who was on a roll when we lost him, for these guys to fight the way they did shows character and how hard they play, noted Wizards head coach Flip Saunders .That energy was perhaps never more evident than in the third quarter when the Wizards used a 14-0 run to turn the game around. The Bulls missed twelve straight field goals while the Wizards held them scoreless for 6:08 Blactche and Thornton each had nine points for the Wizards in the third quarter. Blatche was even bloodied on a foul by the Bulls Brad Miller. Despite a cut on his right eye brow that required time out for treatment, Blatche still made both of his free throws.The Wizards did almost blow a 13-point fourth quarter lead and were in trouble when they were clinging to a 96-95 lead with 1:55 remaining. The Wizards then got just enough on offense while shutting out the Bulls on defense,On a night defined by hustle, it was fitting the Wizards pulled away on second chance points. Randy Foye, who had 16 points and nine assists, hit an 18-foot jumper to make it 100-95 after Thornton secured a loose ball. The ball was knocked loose from Singleton after he had just grabbed a rebound on a Thornton miss.With 26 seconds on the clock the Bulls had possession and a chance to close the gap. Instead the Wizards defense swarmed and did not allow the Bulls a good look at the basket. The defensive stand was complete when Singelton brought in his final rebound with six seconds left and most of the crowd of 14,113 on their feet.A lot of people dont know where some of these guys went to school. These are guys that have been behind the eight-ball and so they are used to being an underdog, added Saunders. No matter what weve had from a team standpoint, weve played our best four games our last four games.