The Matchup: Bradley Beal vs Zach LaVine
LaVine put up 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Beal scored 28, dished out three assists and brought down four boards. The stars led their teams to a thrilling 133-130 game Thursday.
In a close matchup, both teams relied heavily on their stars down the stretch.
Both Beal and LaVine re-entered the game with 8:16 left in the final quarter and made an immediate difference. The Bulls began to run their offense completely through LaVine, but the strategy was less effective than in the first quarter. The Bulls didn’t score for nearly four minutes until LaVine drove for an and-1 layup with 3:49 left.
The Bulls’ scoring break let the Wizards claw back to a tie and Washington even took the lead for the first time in the second half.
LaVine drove for a go-ahead layup with 1:41 left, but Beal smothered the shot with a chase-down block. Sadly, for Beal, Lavine immediate hit a long jumper off the inbound, putting the Bulls up 127-126.
Beal had a chance to be the star of the game, getting a great look at a go-ahead layup off a well-designed inbounds play, but he lost control of the ball on the way up and needed to foul Otto Porter after he grabbed the rebound.
LaVine fouled Russell Westbrook with 6.6 seconds left, with Westbrook hitting both free throws to bring the Wizards within a point, but two LaVine free throws later put up the final score.
The Wizards attempted a deep inbounds pass after Lavine’s free throws, but the pass ended up in the hands of the Bulls, ending the game.
Beal started strong, scoring 10 points in the first eight minutes, largely on the strength of five free throws. He was able to get to the line repeatedly throughout the night, hitting 12 of 13 attempts from the charity stripe.
Like in the final quarter, the Bulls started the game running their offense completely through Lavine, he continued his trend of playmaking to get teammates open to some effect. Multiple of Lavine’s seven assists came early, but just as many of his passes from the lane got swatted away by Wizard arms.
Throughout the game, LaVine created space for himself and teammates with the ball, while Beal used off-ball screens and cuts to create space for himself in the middle of the floor.
One of Beal’s big worries coming into the game, turnovers, wasn’t as big of an issue individually. He committed only three, but the Wizards still committed 14 as a team.
What Else Happened:
The offenses were good, the defenses were bad, Russell Westbrook put up a triple double and tied another Oscar Robertson record, what more did you expect from these teams?
The Wizards had five players reach double-digit scoring, Beal (28), Thomas Bryant (28), Westbrook (22), Rui Hachimura (17) and Raul Neto (15). Westbrook added 10 boards and 11 assists to tie Robertson’s record for most consecutive triple-doubles to start a season with four.
Bryant had an incredible game, hitting 10 of 11 shots, including making three-for-three from 3 and bringing down 3 rebounds.
Otto Porter carried the Bulls’ offensive efforts that LaVine didn’t take, scoring 28 points to complement 12 rebounds. Five more Bulls joined LaVine and Porter in double digits with Coby White and Wendell Carter each scoring 16, Thaddeus Young and Daniel Gafford both put up 15 and Patrick Williams scored 10.
Both teams hit 14 3s, the Wizards needed seven fewer attempts. Washington was able to get to the free throw line at a much higher rate, hitting 32 of 41 to Chicago’s 19-for-15 effort. The Bulls had a major advantage in the paint, 58-36. The Wizards got called for four technical fouls as a team, but each went to different players.
What’s next: The Bulls take the momentum from back-to-back wins against the Wizards into a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks (2-3) on New Year’s Day. The Wizards face off with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2-2) looking to get their first win of the season.