NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards – Wiz Favored
The Wizards will try to top the 100-point mark for the 18th straight game and avenge an earlier loss to the Bulls when the teams meet at the Verizon Center on Wednesday.
Chicago (20-15) was the last team to hold Washington (19-14) under 100 points with a 112-94 win at home on Dec. 2. The Bulls held the Wizards to 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 25.0 percent from 3-point range.
Washington’s Gilbert Arenas, the NBA’s second-leading scorer at 30.5 points per game, and Antawn Jamison, who averages 19.4, combined for 19 points on 6-for-21 shooting in that loss.
"We didn’t play very well," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "They really took it to us. Our minds weren’t really in the right place. They took a lot of things away from us offensively. We have to learn from that."
It seems Washington did.
The Wizards have gone 13-4 since that defeat and are one game behind first-place Orlando in the Southeast Division. The Wizards are averaging 108.1 points per game on the season – second only to Phoenix – and 115.9 in the last 17 contests.
The Bulls, though, are one of the top defensive teams in the league, allowing an average of 95.0 points per game. Chicago, however, is 5-11 on the road and has lost three of its last four games away from the United Center.
The Bulls are 1-9 in their last 10 trips to Washington, while the Wizards have won six straight at home to improve to 13-3 at the Verizon Center.
"Whenever a team gets you at their house, there’s always another opportunity to get back at ’em when you’re playing them at your home," Wizards forward Caron Butler said. "And we play well here."
Arenas has played well at home, averaging 33.7 points and shooting 49.2 percent. He has surpassed his season scoring average in seven of his last eight games, including 33 points in a 116-111 loss at Toronto on Sunday.
Washington has struggled defensively, allowing 106.8 points per game this season, and has given up an average of 116.3 in its last 11 contests.
Help could come as center Etan Thomas, a solid defensive player who averaged 6.6 rebounds before missing 13 games with a sprained left ankle, returns Wednesday.
Chicago lost 84-77 to Houston on Monday. The Bulls suffered through their second-worst shooting night of the season at 36.6 percent and were held to under 80 points for only the second time this season.
"A lot of shots we had were open," forward Michael Sweetney said. "We just had an off night."
Leading scorer Ben Gordon had 24 points Monday to top the 20-point mark for the second game in a row after having his streak of 20-point games stopped at nine in a 91-86 loss to New Jersey on Friday.
Gordon had 28 points in the last meeting with Washington.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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