- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 24, 2007

CHICAGO — When a team runs out of gas in the NBA, it’s not a pretty thing to watch.

And that is exactly what happened to the Washington Wizards last night in Chicago, where the Bulls hammered them late for a 105-90 win at United Center.

Down by just three points at the start of the fourth quarter after trailing by 14 in the third, the Bulls used a 15-3 run over 4:23 to take a 96-80 lead.

The loss ended the Wizards’ winning streak at three games and dropped their record to 31-22. They lost although Gilbert Arenas posted a game-high 36 points, including scoring 18 consecutive points to bridge the third and fourth quarters.

But Luol Deng of the Bulls (32-25) helped offset Arenas’ performance with a career-high tying 32 points and 11 rebounds. Kirk Hinrich had 20 points and 12 assists, while Ben Gordon chipped in with 18 points for the Bulls.

“From Kirk Hinrich to Luol Deng, it seemed like everything they put up went in,” Arenas said. “Luol Deng canceled me out and he shot the ball very well from the inside and outside. And Ben Gordon shot the ball very well tonight. When you get those guys playing their ‘A’ game they are going to cancel me out and make me a non-factor.”

For the game, both teams shot 42 percent from the field, although the Bulls (7-for-15) were better than the Wizards (3-for-8) from behind the 3-point line.

The Wizards hurt themselves in the turnover department. It wasn’t as bad as the season-high 23 they kicked away the night before in win over Sacramento, but they committed 17 last night compared to just five for the Bulls.

“When you turn the ball over like we did that’s how you get good shots,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of his team’s six turnovers in the fourth quarter.

The Bulls shot 58 percent in the fourth.

“We held them to something like 39 percent in the first half,” Jordan continued. “However, Gil and Caron [Butler] were turning the ball over. We just need to play smarter.”

Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson committed four turnovers apiece. Stevenson finished the game with 13 points. Butler, who finished with 14 points with Deng draped all over him, turned the ball over twice.

The Bulls have now won three straight. They dominated the fourth quarter from a defensive standpoint as well, limiting the Wizards to just 40 percent shooting from the field.

“When you look at the stat sheet and Arenas’ game, it’s hard to say we played good defense on him,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “But I felt like we played good defense on him for the most part. He hit some tough shots but all and all I thought we did a good job.”

The Wizards’ record fell to 4-5 without forward Antawn Jamison, who sprained his left knee back on Jan. 30. Jamison is on the trip, however, and there does exist the possibility that he could be ready to play as early as Wednesday when the Wizards play at New Jersey.

Last night neither team gained much of an advantage early.

The Bulls committed just two turnovers in the first half compared to eight for the Wizards.

Washington got off to a nice start, shooting 55 percent in the first quarter and taking a 26-24 lead into the second quarter.

While neither team played particularly well in the second quarter, the Bulls did force the Wizards into five turnovers.

Both teams converted on eight of 24 field goals in the quarter, but the Bulls shot better from long range. While the Wizards missed their only 3-point shot, Chicago was 3-for-5.

Leading 49-45 at halftime, the Bulls opened the third quarter on a 19-10 run to seize a 68-54 lead on Hinrich’s jumper with 5:05 left in the third before Arenas got the Wizards battled back.

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