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Wizards defeat Bulls for fifth straight win at home

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Earlier this season when they endured nightly jabs on and off the court, the Wizards might have been content simply running with the Bulls. Now with its full contingent in place, Washington is delivering the gory knockout blows.

Emeka Okafor tallied 15 points and 16 rebounds, and John Wall also had 15 points as the Wizards won their fifth straight home game with an 86-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

Nene's 16 points led the Wizards (11-31), who took control with a 34-11 run overlapping halftime.

Washington has won seven of 10 games after starting the season 4-28 and its last four home wins have all been by 10 or more points. The five-game home-court winning streak, including Friday's 114-101 victory over Minnesota, is the team's longest in five seasons.

"That is the kind of potential we have," Nene said. "I remember in the beginning everybody saying we suck. Now, we start proving a point. We have back all the players. There is our team. We gonna shut up people's mouths. That's what we're going to do."

Facing one of the NBA's stingiest defenses and best road teams, the Wizards scored 48 points in the paint and committed only nine turnovers before the sellout crowd of 20,308.

"This solidifies and lets us know guys are making moves in the right direction," Okafor said. "We are the team that we thought we were supposed to be, fully loaded."

That certainly was not the case with the Bulls (26-17), who entered the contest sporting a season-high three-game winning streak and a 12-5 road record. Chicago scored a season-low 11 third-quarter points and its 29 points in the second half represents its lowest output in any half this season.

"Sometimes we think that we are just going to show up and win -- we have to get away from that," said Richard Hamilton, who scored nine points. None of Chicago's starters scored in double figures. Nate Robinson led Chicago with 19 points. Joakim Noah had 17 rebounds, 10 assists and nine points.

Trailing 40-35 with 5:27 left in the second quarter, Washington scored 11 straight points and Wall's driving layup sent the Wizards into the halftime locker room ahead 50-44. After the teams traded baskets starting the third, Washington pulled away with 8-0 and 9-0 spurts and Nene's free throws put Washington up 69-51.

Jordan Crawford's jumper opening the fourth quarter gave Washington its largest lead at 75-55 and the margin never dipped back into single digits.

Within a 38-second span in the third quarter, Carlos Boozer picked up a flagrant foul followed by a technical for dragging a driving Okafor to the ground. Boozer missed six of nine shots and finished with six points and two rebounds.

Wall had seven assists and played 28 minutes in his second start of the season after coming off the bench for his first eight games. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft missed the opening 33 games with a left knee injury. Since his return on Jan. 12, Washington has won six of nine games, not that the electric point guard thinks the turnaround is all about him.

"It's not just me, it's never just me," Wall said. "I just wanted to come in and be a spark for the team, play my game. I think I'm just doing a great job of getting easy shots for my teammates, making the game easier."

Coming off a home win Friday night against Golden State, the Bulls led 24-23 after the first quarter and by five in the second quarter. However, a five-minute scoring drought followed -- as did the Wizards' decisive surge. Credit the spurt to Washington's halftime adjustments against Chicago's pick-and-roll offense and the Bulls own misfiring.

"We had a good little wave we were riding," Robinson said. "Sometimes you fall off and we have to get back on and keep surfing."

Chicago had won four straight games in Washington dating back to 2010.

The Bulls won the initial meeting this season in Chicago on Dec. 29, 87-77.

NOTES: Bulls All-Star forward Luol Deng missed his fifth straight game with a right hamstring injury. ... Despite his starting role, John Wall remains on a minutes limit, Washington coach Randy Wittman said. ... Washington trailed after the first quarter for the first time in eight home games. ... Chicago and Washington face off two more times this season, but not until April. ... The Wizards close their three-game homestand Monday against Sacramento. The Bulls host Charlotte on Monday before embarking on a season-high six-game trip.
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