In a matchup between two lottery-bound teams, the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls used players who hope to make an NBA roster next year.
Unfortunately, the Wizards allowed Chicago to shoot 53 percent and Walter Lemon Jr. to lead all scorers with 24 points in a 115-114 loss Wednesday at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
Lemon, who played in his third game with the Bulls, shot 11-for-16 from the floor along with eight assists and two steals.
His two biggest points came from the free-throw line to put Chicago ahead 115-114 with 1.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and snap the team’s five-game losing streak.
“I knew that he could put the ball in the basket going downhill. He’s an attack player,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said of Lemon. “I love guys that get opportunities and take advantage of them. That’s one guy for [Bulls head coach Jim] Boylen and gave them great minutes. He was a handful. We couldn’t stay in front of him.”
Brooks stressed how his Wizards (32-47) gave up 74 points in the paint. In addition, the Bulls played with six inactive players that included Zach LaVine, Laurie Markkaanen, Denzel Valentine and former Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr.
During a timeout in the first quarter, the Wizards presented a short video tribute to Porter with highlights of games and the team’s first-round draft pick in 2013.
Although Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis both scored 20 points and recorded double figures in rebounds, 12 and 10 respectively, Chicago still outrebounded Washington 49-39.
The Bulls (22-58) also committed 20 turnovers, but played enough defense to hold Washington to just nine fast-break points.
“We showed spurts doing things the right way, but defensively we weren’t too good,” said Wizards backup point guard Chasson Randle, who scored 11 points in 23 minutes. “We allowed them to get in the paint a little too easy and make plays. Ultimately that hurt us tonight.”
Another ineffective aspect of Washington’s game was the 3-point line. The team shot one of their worst percentages of the season at 18.5 percent (5-for-27).
Wizards forward and former Bull Jabari Parker left the game in the second quarter after being diagnosed with a left knee sprain. Brooks said Parker will be day to day.
Wizards All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal only played in the first and third quarters, a possible sign Brooks may evaluate other players for the remainder of the season.
“If I play, I play,” Beal said. “It’s not going to be 50 percent Brad. I’m going to play hard [and] play to win on both ends of the court until the coach sits me down.”
Washington has three more games left in the regular season. Two of them will be against playoff-bound teams – the San Antonio Spurs on Friday in the District and the season finale against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday in D.C.