Wizards’ bursts of energy aren’t enough when Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan takes over late

Washington Post photo by John McDonnell.
Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan, left, scores over Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis in the second half as the Chicago Bulls defeat the Washington Wizards 107-94 at Capital One Arena Tuesday night in College Park, D.C.

The Washington Wizards offered tiny bursts of energy throughout their game Tuesday night, enough to remind people that, on the heels of their first back-to-back wins in more than two months, this team still has some fight left in it.

Backup guard Ish Smith, who’s 6-foot, leaped to high heaven to block 6-6 DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls at one point. Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura connected for a zippy behind-the-back pass at another. And shooter Corey Kispert showed a little range with a nice third-quarter dunk.

But sparks of energy weren’t enough to contain DeRozan in the fourth quarter. The Wizards lost, 107-94, after relinquishing just enough of their defensive control to let DeRozan bulldoze his way through Capital One Arena late. The forward scored 14 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth, torching Washington’s hopes for a three-game winning streak.

Washington Post photo by John McDonnell.
Chicago Bulls center Tristan Thompson (3), right, throws Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) to the floor as they fight for a rebound during a game between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls at the Capital One Arena on March 29, 2022 in College Park, D.C.

Until DeRozan’s onslaught, the Wizards (32-43) kept pace thanks to strong shooting from Hachimura — he went 8 for 10 for 21 points – and an even battle on the boards. Despite a strong start from Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic (27 points), neither team had anyone who popped until the Bulls (44-32) took over in the fourth.

With Washington trailing by one and less than nine minutes to go, DeRozan began a 9-0 streak with his second jumper in as many possessions. Alex Caruso poked the ball away from Smith and got the ball to Javonte Green for a three-point play before DeRozan capped the run with two more buckets. It took less than two minutes for the Bulls to get all the separation they needed.

The Wizards looked drained after that as DeRozan surged on and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope checked in to try and salvage something from the game. He had 11 points and a steal in the final 6:21 but couldn’t push Washington into the lead without defense to back him up.

Caldwell-Pope finished with 20 points, and Avdija added 14 off the bench. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine added 14 points for Chicago.