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Bulls charge past Wizards, into first in East
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CHICAGO | Derrick Rose scored 23 points in Chicago’s seventh straight win, a 98-79 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night that moved the Bulls into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls (48-18) moved a half-game ahead of the Boston Celtics. Chicago has not held the East’s top spot this late in the season since 1997-98, the season the Bulls won their sixth NBA championship.
Washington center JaVale McGee had a rare triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks, the most by an NBA player since Toronto’s Keon Clark had 12 on March 23, 2001.
Rookie Jordan Crawford scored 27 points for the Wizards, who have lost five straight and 12 of13.
McGee fell just short of the franchise record for blocks in a game. Manute Bol swatted 15 shots for the then-Bullets on Feb. 26, 1987. It was the most blocks a player has had against Chicago in a regulation game.
The Bulls jumped to a 31-19 lead in the first quarter with little resistance from the Wizards, who fell to 1-30 on the road. Chicago outrebounded Washington 17-5 in the opening period despite the absences of center Joakim Noah and power forward Carlos Boozer.
Crawford heated up in the second quarter against the Bulls’ reserves, scoring 15 points in the period on 5-for-6 shooting and hit a jumper from the right wing that brought Washington within 47-46 with 1.1 seconds left in the half.
Kurt Thomas sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer, putting the Bulls up 50-46 at the break. It was Thomas’ first 3-pointer since April 10, 2005.
The Bulls have won 10 of of their last 11 games and improved to 30-4 at home. Only San Antonio (31-3) had done better on their home floor.
Chicago played its third straight game without Boozer, who sprained his left ankle in a win over Charlotte on March 9. Boozer, who didn’t dress for the game, was seen limping toward the Bulls locker room before the game. A timetable for his return has not yet been established.
Noah missed the game because of flu-like symptoms. Noah was sent home from the team’s shootaround on Tuesday morning after reporting that he wasn’t feeling well. The illness isn’t believed to be serious.
The beleagured Wizards suited up just nine players, six of which were rookies. It could have been worse as John Wall’s availability was in question before warmups. Wall had some soreness in his foot, which was stepped on during Washington’s loss to Oklahoma City on Monday. Rashard Lewis (knee), Cartier Martin (knee), Josh Howard (knee), Andray Blatche (shoulder) and Nick Young (flu) were all unavailable.
Notes: Only one team has gone 1-40 on the road since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule in 1967-68: the Sacramento Kings in 1990-91.
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