- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) | After missing three games with a hamstring injury and struggling with his shot, Luol Deng made it clear that he’s back up to speed.

Deng scored a season-high 26 points, and Ben Gordon added 21 to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards 117-110 on Saturday night.

“I always have my confidence,” Deng said. “Just some games I was struggling out there. What I got to do is be more aggressive more often even when the shot is not falling try to stay with it. I was slowed down with the injury a little bit, but now I’m feeling better.”

Deng, who signed a six-year contract extension in the offseason, was shooting just 41 percent from the field coming into the game, but finished the game 11-for-19.

“He was aggressive and he was cutting to the basket well and our guys found him. This is progression for Luol. In some of his slow games it was not just him,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Former Washington player Larry Hughes added 24 points, and Derrick Rose had 15 points and eight assists for Chicago.

Caron Butler finished with 27 points, six assists and eight rebounds for Washington, and Antawn Jamison added 23 points and 12 rebounds.

The Wizards dropped to 3-15 for the first time since the 1966-67 season, when they were known as the Baltimore Bullets.

“It’s tough. I’ve never been in this situation like this before,” Butler said. “We’re giving a lot of effort and we’re giving a lot of energy but we’re still falling short.”

With Chicago leading 69-68 midway through the third quarter, Andres Nocioni hit a 3 to start a 10-0 run and Gordon hit another 3 to give the Bulls a 79-68 lead.

The Bulls closed the third quarter by outscoring the Wizards 19-6, a run highlighted by Gordon’s block on Antonio Daniels’ layup attempt. Nocioni made another 3 with 22.4 seconds left in the quarter to give Chicago a 88-72 lead.

One night after losing to the Lakers 106-104, the Wizards failed to defend against the Bulls. Chicago shot 52.4 percent and scored 24 points off the Wizards’ 16 turnovers.

“One of the things you can’t succumb to is frustration. We have to keep a positive attitude,” Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said.

Notes - Wizards guard Dee Brown, who helped lead Illinois to the 2005 NCAA national championship game, played just hours after Illinois beat Georgia 76-42 at United Center. Brown did not attend the game. …

Two former high first-round picks for the Bulls got little action. Joakim Noah did not play, and Tyrus Thomas played only six minutes and failed to score. …

Daniels injured his lower back, but the injury doesn’t appear serious.