Wizards’ winning streak snapped as DeMar DeRozan takes over in fourth

Wizards’ winning streak snapped as DeRozan takes over in fourth originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

 

WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls 107-94 on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five observations from what went down…

DeRozan took over

Winners of two straight coming in, the Wizards led early in the third quarter and were within striking range in the fourth, in position to match their longest win streak since November. But DeMar DeRozan had other ideas.

The same man who sank a buzzer-beater three on New Year’s Day to lift the Bulls over the Wizards, once again engineered a victory at Capital One Arena, this time with a 23-point second half, including 14 points in the fourth quarter. He had 32 points on the night.

The Wizards added another to the loss column, which puts them at 32-43 on the year. Their magic number to be eliminated from the play-in tournament is now only two.

That means it could happen as soon as Wednesday, as the Wizards play Orlando and both the Hawks and Hornets are in action.

Rui was good

It was another solid game from Rui Hachimura on the offensive end, as he poured in a season-high 21 points and shot particularly well, going 8-for-10 on the night, including 2-for-3 from three. It was a bounceback game of sorts for Hachimura, who scored only six points in the win over the Warriors on Sunday. That followed 10 consecutive games of him reaching double-figures.

It was the sixth straight game Hachimura has started at the four and he will get at least one more, as Kyle Kuzma is expected to miss Wednesday’s meeting with the Orlando Magic. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. revealed that pregame and it once again brings up the question of whether Kuzma will actually come back. He’s been out with right knee tendinitis and, though, it’s a minor injury, the Wizards will only have six games left.

Vucevic hurt them early

The Bulls had a clear strategy early in this game and that was to give the ball to big man Nikola Vucevic. The former All-Star got going quickly and scored the Bulls’ first nine points. He had 20 points by halftime and finished the game with 27. That was on 12-for-19 shooting from the field and 2-for-5 from three, so he was also efficient.

Kristaps Porzingis took the brunt of much of that. Vucevic used his strength to back Porzingis down and score around the rim. As evidenced by his 3-point shooting, he also spread the floor. It was a complete performance for Vucevic, whose numbers have dropped off from last season, but you wouldn’t have known it watching this game.

Porzingis’ passing

It wasn’t Porzingis’ best defensive game, but he was decent on the other end. He put together a line of 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. But in this game, he also showed flashes as a passer, which is something Unseld Jr. said recently he believes has gone underrated.

Statistically speaking, it’s one of the few gaps in his game. He’s never been a high assists guy, relatively speaking for a big man. But he came into this game averaging 2.9 assists per game with the Wizards, which if carried over the course of a full season would be a career-high. In this game, he had five assists, including a deft bounce pass from the high block to a cutting Corey Kispert.

Deni to Rui

Hachimura wasn’t the only young player on the Wizards to shine in this one. Deni Avdija also had a solid game of 14 points and eight rebounds plus a block on DeMar DeRozan in the fourth quarter. Avdija only had three assists, but one of them made for one of the better plays of the night for the Wizards. He found Hachimura on the fastbreak with a nifty behind-the-back pass, which Hachimura scored on with a reverse layup in traffic.

That’s the Wizards’ 2019 and 2020 first-round picks linking up for a highlight play, one that showed Avdija’s ability to make plays in the open court and Hachimura’s athleticism around the rim. Those are the things the Wizards front office likes to see.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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