- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Two nights after a thorough, start-to-finish victory in Detroit, the Washington Wizards couldn’t find a way to replicate it.

The Wizards blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter and multiple surprising fouls called against Washington first pushed the game to overtime, then helped the Chicago Bulls to a 110-109 victory.

Bradley Beal said the Wizards were “lackadaisical” and “stagnant” down the stretch.

“We’re getting better, we’re showing some signs that we’re doing the right things on the defensive end, but like moments like tonight, we’ve gotta be better,” Beal said. “We’ve got to be able to close out those games and execute down the stretch. We’ve got to put it away, plain and simple.”

The Bulls strung together a 12-0 run at the end of regulation to come back and tie a game that Washington appeared to have in the bag. The Wizards went almost five minutes without scoring, but then Bradley Beal sank a floater from the foul line to put Washington up 98-96 with 0.5 seconds left.

But on the Bulls’ last-ditch inbound play, a Hail Mary aimed toward the basket, Washington forward Isaac Bonga was called for a loose ball foul that was upheld after official review. Zach LaVine hit both free throws to force overtime.

“They called it, so it’s a foul,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Point-five seconds. I thought both guys were holding, but (Bonga) held. Probably a lot of times, you let that go with 0.5 on the clock. I’ve seen it many times where that happens but it wasn’t the case tonight.”

At one point during the extra period, referees changed a possession call from Washington to Chicago after a review determined the ball bounced off a Wizard’s sneaker. Lauri Markkanen immediately scored on the Bulls’ next play.

Late in overtime, Washington led 109-106 when Wendell Carter Jr. went to the foul line. He made his first shot but missed his second — but the Wizards were called for a lane violation. Getting a do-over, Carter made his second shot.

Beal missed a driving layup with 18 seconds to go, the Bulls took the ball in transition and Carter ended up with an easy layup that proved to be the game-winner.

The Wizards fell to 8-18. Their 13-point fourth quarter marked a season low.

Davis Bertans led Washington with 26 points, 21 of them coming in the first half, and shot 7 of 13 from 3-point range. Beal tallied 22 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, but shot 4 of 15 from the floor. Thomas added 16 points.

Isaiah Thomas felt the Wizards depended too much on Beal late in the game.

“I definitely got to go back and watch the film, but we just didn’t execute like we did to get us the lead, and I think that hurt us,” Thomas said. “We played like we were stalling, for whatever reason, playing against the shot clock and hoping to make the shot at the end of the shot clock.”

Bertans was less of a factor in the second half and overtime, but he made five 3-pointers in the second quarter alone, the last four all coming from beyond 30 feet.

Beal missed a three off the front iron and Ish Smith batted the incoming ball high in the air toward Bertans. Just in front of the midcourt Wizards logo, Bertans pulled up and drained a 34-foot shot that sent a jolt through the home crowd.

He went on to drain 31-foot threes on the next two Wizards possessions, and another 31-footer before the second quarter was over. The Wizards entered halftime leading 58-52.

A quick 9-2 run for the Wizards, fueled by Thomas and Beal 3-pointers, put Washington up by as many as 13 in the third quarter. But Bertans cooled off, failing to score in the third and putting up just one attempt.

“After I made those six, they definitely paid attention to me a lot more and I wasn’t so open most of the time,” Bertans said.

Anzejs Pasecniks, a 7-foot-1 center from Latvia, made his NBA debut a day after the Wizards signed him from the G League Capital City Go-Go to a two-way contract. Pasecniks and Ian Mahinmi were the Wizards’ only healthy centers on Wednesday, with Thomas Bryant out a few weeks with a stress reaction in his foot and Mortiz Wagner sidelined with an ankle sprain.

Pasecniks missed his first three shots down low but eventually got on the board. He swallowed up six rebounds in his first 10 minutes on the floor and ended up playing more minutes than Mahinmi, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.

The Wizards also didn’t have first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura for the first time this season. The Japanese-born forward was accidentally kicked in the groin during Monday’s game and will miss at least five games.

Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 31 points and LaVine scored 24. Tomas Satoransky, playing against the Wizards for the first time since he joined Chicago in the offseason via sign-and-trade, scored 17.

Another former Wizard, Otto Porter Jr., missed the game with a foot fracture.

Wednesday was the Wizards’ only home game amid a stretch of playing seven of eight on the road. Their upcoming four-game road trip will take them to Toronto, Philadelphia, New York and Detroit.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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