WASHINGTON (AP) — D.J. Augustin scored 25 points Saturday night, Joakim Noah had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls turned a possible first-round playoff preview into a laugher, never trailing in a 96-78 win over the Washington Wizards.
Augustin made 6 of 11 3-pointers — but only 2 of 8 2-pointers — and Carlos Boozer added 16 points for the Bulls, who have won five straight and are battling the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Augustin has averaged 19.8 points during the winning streak.
John Wall scored 20 points, and Marcin Gortat had 19 for the Wizards, who sit in sixth place in the East. If they hold that spot, they would face the third-seeded team.
The Bulls clamped down on the Wizards early, taking advantage of turnovers and a rebounding advantage to build the lead. When Washington’s Martell Webster made a bad pass that was picked off by Boozer, the Chicago forward found Augustin to start the break, then received the ball back in a no-look pass and went hard to the hoop. Boozer was fouled and made both free throws to push the score to 28-14 late in the first quarter.
Trailing by 12 at the end of the period, the Wizards were then completely undone by a 10-point second quarter. At one point, they were 0 for 7 from the 3-point line and 0 for 3 from the free throw line for the game, as well as 2 for 13 from the field in the period. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Augustin made the score 36-18, and a free throw by Jimmy Butler in the final minute of the first half gave the Bulls a 28-point lead.
Chicago also outrebounded Washington 17-9 in the second quarter. At the half, Gortat was 5 for 5 from the field; his teammates were 8 for 37.
The Wizards made a run in the third quarter, scoring more points (35) in the period than they had in the entire first half (26). Wall’s 30-foot bounce pass to Trevor Booker on a fast break led to a dunk pulled Washington within 11 and brought the crowd to its feet.
But Noah took over and quickly squashed the rally. His three-point play started a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
Notes: The Wizards finished 3 for 16 from 3-point range. … Bulls avoided a sweep of the season series. The Washington had won the first two. … As the team with the NBA’s only Polish player (Gortat), the Wizards celebrated Polish Heritage Night. Poland’s ambassador to the U.S. made a presentation to Gortat before tipoff. … The Wizards recalled G Glen Rice from Iowa of the D-League.
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