Wizards-Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls are getting closer to locking up their second straight No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and it appears Derrick Rose will be around for the stretch run after fighting off injuries.

That's not good news for the Washington Wizards.

Fresh off some late-game heroics, Rose looks to help the Bulls earn their eighth straight win over Washington when the teams meet Monday night at the United Center.

Rose entered Sunday having played only twice in Chicago's last 15 games due to groin and ankle injuries, shooting a combined 23.1 percent in a loss to New York on April 8 and a win over Miami on Thursday. He shot 1 for 13 against the Heat and finished with a career-worst two points.

The reigning MVP looked fully recovered Sunday. Rose scored 24 points, dished out nine assists and hit the tying 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left in regulation as Chicago won 100-94 at Detroit in overtime.

He was sporting a new battle scar following the game - a cut on his nose that was the result of a flagrant foul by Charlie Villanueva.

"I was mad. I'm sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me," Rose said. "He didn't even aim for the ball."

Joakim Noah added 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls (46-14), who hold a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Miami with six games remaining. The Heat have seven games to go.

"We know we have to play better, but at this point of the year, every win is important," Noah said. "When Derrick hit that 3, it just gave our team new life, and we just handled our business in overtime."

Rose sat out Chicago's 78-64 win over Washington on Jan. 11, but he had a season-high 35 points in a 98-88 victory Jan. 30 to help the Bulls win their seventh straight meeting with the Wizards.

He's averaging 26.4 points in his last eight versus Washington (14-46), which has lost seven of nine.

One night after an embarrassing 103-65 loss in New York, the Wizards fell 98-89 to Cleveland on Saturday.

John Wall scored 19 points and admitted it's been a struggle to finish out another disappointing season.

"I know if you play the game of basketball you might be tired but you have to continue and finish the season out strong," Wall said. "I don't know how a lot of guys are feeling right now or how they are, but I know the last two games all of us have been mad about losing."

Jordan Crawford scored 18 points and is averaging 19.0 over his last four games.

Washington only has pride to play for over its last six games, but Crawford said the Wizards must keep playing hard.

"You still have to come out and do your job," Crawford said. "If you have bad days at work you still have to come out and put all your energy into it, so it's no excuse."

The Bulls have won six straight meetings in Chicago and 12 of 14 there in the regular season.

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