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Mar 24, 2024 3:53 pm

Bulls strive for consistency as Wizards set to visit

Coby White

Enduring a season-series sweep at the hands of the NBA-best Boston Celtics has taught the Chicago Bulls a few things.

The Bulls hope to channel perhaps the most important lesson on the list when they host the Washington Wizards on Monday: It pays to be resilient.

Saturday’s 124-113 home loss to Boston was Chicago’s third setback against the Celtics, who were without Jaylen Brown (right ankle sprain), Kristaps Porzingis (right hamstring), and Jrue Holiday (shoulder). No matter.

“They do a good job of when somebody is not playing to give everybody else confidence to step up and play their game, so that all of them play with confidence,” Chicago’s Coby White said. “They stick to their identity no matter who’s out there on the floor, so they’re still really good with guys out.”

In some respects, Chicago (34-37) has been skilled in that area, too. The Bulls have endured their share of injuries while maintaining a hold on ninth place in the Eastern Conference. A spot in the East play-in tournament is likely with 11 games remaining.

Winning the tournament would mean a first-round matchup with the Celtics, however, adding urgency to Chicago’s objective of improving down the stretch.

One area of progress has been ball movement. The Bulls stayed afloat against the short-handed Celtics behind a season-high 36 assists, which helped produce seven scorers in double figures.

DeMar DeRozan had 28 points and nine assists for Chicago, while White had 11 points and 10 assists.

A victory on Monday would allow the Bulls to clinch the season series against Washington (13-58). Chicago cruised past the visiting Wizards 127-98 on March 16 behind 34 points from Ayo Dosunmu.

That defeat marked the third of five in a row for Washington, which since has rallied for back-to-back home wins against Sacramento and Toronto. It’s just the third time this season the Wizards have won consecutive games.

Jordan Poole scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter of Washington’s latest victory Saturday, as the Wizards outscored the Raptors 35-28 in the period.

“It was a good win for us,” Poole said. “It was a scrappy game. Both teams played good. We both struggled for periods of time, but we managed to stay together through it all.”

With Toronto also short-handed, the Wizards capitalized. Deni Avdija continued to be a bright spot in the second half of the season, contributing 22 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double in his past 10 games.

“I have trust in him, so we’re definitely putting the ball in his hands more,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “Some of it’s also his rebounding. It leads to him pushing in transition. But his ability to get downhill, get to the rim for himself and for others has been terrific.”

The Bulls have won two in a row overall against the Wizards and four straight at the United Center. Chicago is 9-3 in the past 12 meetings between the teams.

–Field Level Media

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