- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

One of the many mantras coach Doug Collins has tried to instill in his team is that they are nothing more than the sum of their parts, and last night, with the NBA's equivalent of Valvoline visiting MCI Center, the Wizards hummed like a smooth-running engine.

Playing a Chicago team that some of the Wizards felt tried to run up the score in its victory in Chicago last Friday, Washington returned the favor with a 115-90 pummeling of the Bulls in front of 20,674 at MCI Center.

In winning its second consecutive game in the wake of a seven-game losing streak that ended with a victory against Orlando, the Wizards had their best offensive outing of the season, bettering the 112 points they scored against Phoenix on Jan. 26. Washington (29-30) also had its best shooting night of the season, making 57 percent of its shots (45 of 79).

Collins remembered Marcus Fizer's meaningless hoop at the end of Friday's game, and at first he didn't give it much credit for firing up his team, which was playing for the fifth time without injured Michael Jordan.

"I wasn't happy that it happened," Collins said. "It's sort of the unwritten rule that you run the clock out. So if some of our guys took offense to it, that's great. When I played you just didn't score when the game was over."

Said Etan Thomas: "We talked about that before the game and used it as momentum. We didn't forget what happened when we were out there. He wanted to dunk. We remembered it."

Courtney Alexander, who led the Wizards with 26 points off the bench, mentioned the incident Monday morning, saying "things like that we remember. Obviously we keep that in the back of our mind."

Bulls coach Bill Cartwright didn't address the point. He obviously has bigger issues to deal with like his team's defensive lapses.

"One-hundred points is unacceptable and 115 points is ridiculous," he said.

But last night the Wizards didn't really need too much motivation to dispatch the Bulls (16-44), because Chicago showed little semblance to the team that beat the Wizards 90-81 last week. Jalen Rose last night led the Bulls with a game-high 31 points, and Fizer added 15.

But the outstanding performance the Bulls got from Eddy Curry last week seemed more the stuff of legend and lore after his performance yesterday. Last week Curry pumped in career highs in points (19) and rebounds (14).

But with Jahidi White's 290-pound frame back in the lineup, Curry, a high schooler this time last season, snapped back to reality with six points and six rebounds. White had seven points and five rebounds in the first quarter on his way to 13 points and seven boards and established a physical presence from the start that left the Bulls rattled.

"Jahidi is such a physical presence out there and he got us off to a great start," Collins said.

That carried over into every aspect of the game. The Wizards pounded the Bulls on the boards, out-rebounding them 47-29. This was just one of the elements of the game that enabled the Wizards to build a 25-point lead in the second half.

Just as important was the performance of the Wizards bench. Led by Alexander and Tyronn Lue (11 points, seven assists), the Wizards reserves outscored their starters 62-53. Alexander by himself scored more than twice as many points as the Bulls' bench (12).

"Our bench has always come in and given us a spark," said Chris Whitney, who finished with 13 points and six assists. "There have been games where other teams' benches may have outscored us but they always give effort. It's very rare that they don't. They've been good. We know that we have a lot of different combinations that we can throw out there."

The Wizards led by double figures for much of the first half. And when the Bulls narrowed the lead to 61-55 in the third quarter, the Wizards simply stepped it up.

From that point on, Washington made 15 of 16 free throws afer making just seven of 15 at the start. And in a pleasant change of events, the Wizards' 52 points in the paint were 22 better than the 30 the Bulls scored.

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