Bulls-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 26, 2013
As successful as their recent homestand was, the Chicago Bulls have been even better lately on the road. A visit to one of the Eastern Conference's worst teams would appear to give the Bulls a prime chance for another win away from home, but the Washington Wizards have proved difficult to beat at home lately. The Bulls will seek a sixth consecutive road victory and their season-high fourth in a row overall by denying the Wizards their longest win streak at the Verizon Center in five seasons Saturday night. Chicago (26-16) finished 3-1 in its homestand and earned a decisive 103-87 victory over Golden State in Friday's finale. Kirk Hinrich had a season-high 25 points and Nate Robinson scored 22 for the Bulls, whose lone blemish on the homestand was an overtime loss to Memphis last Saturday. In his fourth straight start in place of All-Star Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler recorded his first career double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds). Carlos Boozer and fellow All-Star Joakim Noah also pulled off that feat Friday. Deng, averaging a team-best 17.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, is dealing with a strained right hamstring, but Butler has been sensational as his replacement, averaging 15.5 points and 9.3 boards. "We're a real hungry team right now, and we really feel that our best basketball is yet to come," Noah said. "We're short-handed right now but we're playing with a great edge." Chicago has beaten the top two teams in the East, Miami and New York, during its current road win streak. A matchup with Washington (10-31) would seem a little easier, but the Wizards have won six of nine and four straight at home. Washington had little trouble in Friday's opener of a three-game homestand, knocking off Minnesota 114-101 to move out of last place in the East. John Wall had 14 points in his first start in 2012-13 and the Wizards shot a season-high 57.8 percent. Washington was 5-28 while its point guard recovered from a knee injury and 4-13 at home. With Wall back, the Wizards are on the verge of their first five-game win streak at the Verizon Center since Jan. 12-29, 2008. Jordan Crawford had a team-best 19 points Friday after averaging 8.3 in his first four games back from an ankle injury, and Bradley Beal contributed 16 points and a career-best four blocks. "You're not going to hear any good thing about your team or organization if you're not winning games, and that's all we're trying to do - is just win," Wall said. Wall and Crawford did not play in the only other matchup with the Bulls this season, an 87-77 loss in Chicago on Dec. 29. Marco Belinelli had a team-best 17 points for the home team, which shot 39.1 percent, while Beal scored 14 for the Wizards, who shot 36.5 percent and were held under 15 points in two quarters. The Bulls are 8-1 in their last nine games against Washington and have won four straight in the nation's capital. The last two wins there have been by a combined 38 points. The Wizards, however, recorded their most recent win over Chicago on April 16. Kevin Seraphin had 21 points and a career high-tying 13 rebounds in that 87-84 victory and Wall had 16 points, including three key free throws in the final 1:16.
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