Chicago (29-37) at Washington (33-31)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 48° F
  • Game info: 3:30 pm EST Sun Mar 19, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Washington Wizards look to avoid losing a season series to the Chicago Bulls for the first time in five years as they meet at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards defeated the Bulls in six games in the first round of last year’s playoffs, but are 0-2 against Chicago this season and in danger of losing a season series to them for the first time since 2000-01.

Washington is once again poised for a playoff run, entering play in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game behind the Indiana Pacers and one game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards are coming off a 104-94 loss Friday to the Dallas Mavericks, snapping their three-game winning streak and a season-high seven-game streak of scoring at least 100 points.

The Wizards, who allowed the Mavericks to shoot 50.0 percent from the field, were outrebounded 45-35.

“We didn’t play as hard as they did,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “They made shots. They played harder, longer. They’re just a better team than we are.”

Gilbert Arenas scored 26 points and is averaging 33.3 points in his last four home games. Arenas scored 42 points in his last home game against the Bulls, a 118-111 loss Dec. 10.

Antawn Jamison added 21 points, and Caron Butler had 18. Jamison is averaging 25.3 points in his last three games.

Arenas, Jamison and Butler are averaging a combined 66.1 points, the highest scoring trio in the league.

“The Big Three got a little bit fatigued,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to get some more production off the bench, whether it’s rebounds or steals or stops.”

Washington’s bench is averaging just 16.0 points and 11.8 rebounds in its last four games.

Chicago’s win in December snapped an 11-game losing streak in Washington that included three playoff games.

The Bulls lost to the Miami Heat 85-84 on Saturday, their fourth loss in the last six games.

Chicago held Miami to an opponent season-low 32.4 percent shooting, and the Bulls lead the league in field goal percentage defense by holding opponents to 42.7 percent shooting.

Luol Deng finished with a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, but missed a potential game-winning baseline jumper as time expired.

“I thought we played very tough, pretty much all the way through to the end. I thought we did a way above average job on Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “We had the ball in our hands down by the basket and could not come up with them.”

The final play was originally designed for Ben Gordon, who was double-teamed and unable to get the ball. Gordon leads the Bulls in scoring, but has just 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting in his last two games.

Andres Nocioni had 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds Saturday, and has 39 points and 21 rebounds in his last two games.

Chicago is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the final playoff spot.

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