- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

It’s been four-plus years since Washington went over .500. The Wizards will get a chance to end that streak in their next game.

John Wall had 23 points and 11 assists, and Washington beat the Chicago Bulls 96-93 on Friday night for its third consecutive victory.

The Wizards (19-19) reached .500 for the third time this season. They host lowly Detroit on Saturday night with a chance for their first winning record since they were 2-1 on Oct. 31, 2009.

“I don’t know what to think about it. I want to get over it,” Wall said. “I think we get too anxious about it and too nervous and too hyper and we don’t come out and play the right way.”

Wall had a circus shot in the third quarter that helped spark a 10-0 run. The speedy point guard was grabbed by Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy on a drive. He spun and flipped the ball into the hoop with his left hand as he fell backward.

“I don’t know how the heck it went in. I surprised myself,” Wall said.

Washington held the Bulls to just one field goal in the final 5:16. Chicago (18-20) also was trying to reach .500, but missed eight of its final nine field goals.

Dunleavy was supposed to take the final shot for the Bulls, but Wall blocked his way. Jimmy Butler tried for a tying 3-pointer and was blocked by Nene as time expired.

“I got open. But unfortunately we were a little too close to the sideline,” Dunleavy said. “With 10 seconds left it’s different than having like two or three, when you just want to get a look. Ten seconds is a lot of time. You can get a two there. I just wasn’t going to chuck one up.”

Kirk Hinrich led Chicago with 18 points, and D.J. Augustin scored 16. The Bulls were playing two nights after their second triple-overtime win of the season in Orlando.

“Our defense got really good down the stretch,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “The last play we were all over the place and didn’t let them get a shot up.”

Washington had six players score in double figures. Bradley Beal and Martell Webster had 14 points apiece.

There were 12 lead changes and 11 ties. The Wizards took a 92-91 lead on Marcin Gortat’s layup with 4:28 to play.

With the Wizards ahead 96-93 with 1:06 to play, Chicago’s Joakim Noah threw a pass out of bounds, and teammate Taj Gibson missed a short jumper with 30 seconds left.

Then came the crucial block. Butler, who played 60 minutes in the triple-overtime game, didn’t expect to be in the position to force another extra session.

“We were gonna try Mike. When he threw the ball to me, I was caught off guard by it. I think everybody was,” Butler said.

The Bulls had won six of seven, and were trying to reach .500 for the first time since Nov. 27.

“They’re a tough team to match up with. You have the issue of Wall with his speed,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Gortat had 13 points as Washington moved to .500 for the first time since Dec. 30.

“You’ve got to win games like this,” Wittman said. “You’re not going to play a good game every night. Are we good enough to win on our bad nights?”

Washington shot 68.4 percent in the first quarter and led 30-27 after one. The Wizards also had a 54-50 lead at halftime.

Chicago went on a 14-2 run to take a 70-62 lead with 5:18 remaining in the third. But the Wizards responded with the 10-point burst that included the exciting shot by Wall.

Washington continues to struggle after halftime. Wittman said he had a possible solution for the woes.

“We’ve got to figure out what do in the locker room,” he said. “Maybe get some Red Bulls in there.”

The game was tied at 74 after three.



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