WASHINGTON (AP) — Luol Deng and Derrick Rose scored 21 points apiece, Joakim Noah had 19, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards 105-77 Monday night to move within a game of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls never trailed as they won their third straight and seventh in eight games. Rose brought out some oohs and aahs with a backward between-the-legs pass to Noah for a fast-break dunk, and Deng was already walking to the locker room before his 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer from the corner swished through the net to give Chicago a 13-point lead at the break.
By the fourth quarter, they were having loads of fun. Rose fed Deng and Noah for back-to-back dunks that pushed the lead to 24 with 2 1/2 minutes to play, and then the reserves came in and finished off the game, with the Chicago fans saving the biggest roar for Brian Scalabrine’s garbage-time jumper.
Rose also had nine assists, Noah pulled down 11 rebounds, and Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who are even with the Heat in the loss column as part of a three-way battle with the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the East.
This was the type of game Chicago needed to win easily, ahead of a breathtaking trio of games at Atlanta, Orlando and Miami to finish up a five-game road trip. The Bulls led by 21 entering the fourth quarter and were able to coast from there.
Andray Blatche scored 15 points, and Nick Young had 14 for the Wizards, who have lost six in a row and 15 of 17. Mike Bibby was so anxious to get out of town that he gave up $6.2 million in a contract buyout on Monday after playing just two games with Washington; he had been acquired last week in a trade with Atlanta.
The Wizards shot 36 percent, were outrebounded 56-39 and managed only four fast break points. No. 1 overall pick John Wall was just 3 for 14 from the field and finished with nine points and 10 assists.
Notes: The Bulls equaled their win total from last season’s 41-41 team. … Blatche returned after missing two games with a strained hip muscle. … Chicago is 3-0 in the season series with one to play. … Washington G Mustafa Shakur, signed before the game to take Bibby’s spot on the roster, played 6 minutes and did not score.