Wizards’ Beal scores 39 in win over Bulls
WASHINGTON — Based on how the Washington Wizards ended 2017, perhaps they can skip a formal New Year’s resolution about stepping up their game against opponents with losing records.
Bradley Beal scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, and John Wall had 21 as the Washington Wizards rallied past the Chicago Bulls for a 114-110 win on Sunday.
The Wizards (21-16) moved in front for good on Wall’s three-point play with 29.4 seconds remaining for a 112-110 lead. Mike Scott scored 17 points for the Wizards, who ended 2017 with back-to-back wins.
Nikola Mirotic scored 21 points for the Bulls (13-23). Chicago had won 10 of 12 games since Dec. 8 with the only losses coming against Eastern Conference contenders Boston and Cleveland.
Washington entered Sunday as one of six teams with a losing record (9-10) against teams under .500. The other five teams have 12 wins or fewer on the season.
The Wizards’ dynamic backcourt filled up the stat sheet to help avoid another maddening loss.
Beal sank 7 of 13 3-point attempts and came up one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double. After Scott’s jumper with 8:25 remaining gave Washington’s its first lead since 6-5 at 94-93, Beal scored the Wizards’ next 15 points.
“That’s just being in the zone, being locked in,” Beal said of fourth-quarter flourish from the field. “I really wanted to win this game. That was a team that competed their tails off from start to finish.”
Wall also had nine assists and four blocks. The Wizards are 7-3 since the point guard returned from a nine-game injury absence on Dec. 13.
Kris Dunn had 19 points and 11 assists for the Bulls, but he missed a jumper with 25.4 seconds remaining.
Chicago fouled Beal, who missed a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left, but the Bulls lost possession in the backcourt. Wall pushed the lead to four with two from the free-throw line with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 12 points for the Wizards, who finished 16 of 36 from beyond the arc. The Bulls shot 8 of 35 on 3-pointers and 46.7 percent overall.
“I thought earlier we had some really good looks. They got out, they amped up their defense and really pressured us,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Chicago’s struggles from deep. “That was a part of it as well. Give them credit for amping up their pressure the way they did but early on. I thought we had some great looks. We just didn’t knock them down.”
Robin Lopez had 16 points for the Bulls, whose only losses in the current 13-game stretch have come on the road against Eastern Conference contenders.
“I think we’ve been unselfish, we’ve been playing together, we’ve been resilient,” Lopez said. “We found a really nice formula right now, and I think what’s good about it is that it’s been consistent, for the most part.”
The Bulls continued their surging ways in the first half with 38 points in the opening quarter and an eventual 12-point lead. Washington’s defense improved from there. Chicago went 7 of 18 from the field in the fourth quarter while missing 6 of 7 3-point tries.
“That first quarter they moved us around. We couldn’t stay in front of them,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re a good team when we get stops. We keeping harping on it and finally did it. In the fourth quarter, we got a lot of stops.”
The Wizards rallied in the first half behind a small-ball lineup that included the 6-foot-8 Scott at center. Scott made all five of his field-goal attempts in the first half and scored 13 points as the Wizards trailed 63-59.
At the end, for once, they didn’t trail a team with a losing record.
“We played hard,” Brooks said. “Much has been said and should be said. We were 9-10 (against teams under .500) going into this game. ... We stuck with it. We kept battling. A couple of times it didn’t look good, but we kept fighting and coming back with good defensive pressure and made big plays and big plays for each other.”
Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday and David Nwaba each scored 11 for Chicago.
NOTES: The Bulls’ bench outscored the Wizards’ reserves 46-32. ... Wizards F Mike Scott returned to the team after missing the Friday win over the Houston Rockets for the birth of his second child. ... Bulls G Kris Dunn played 32 minutes after sitting out the Friday game with left patellar tendinitis. ... G Bradley Beal recorded his first 30-point scoring game since tallying 34 in Washington’s Dec. 7 win at the Phoenix Suns. ... The Bulls kick off 2018 Monday in Chicago against the Portland Trail Blazers. ... Washington hosts the New York Knicks on Wednesday.