Once a must-see matchup, the Derrick Rose-versus-John Wall showdown has lost a little luster in recent years. That may change with both playing well heading into this meeting.
In a clash between former first overall draft picks, Rose will try to stay hot while leading the suddenly high-scoring Chicago Bulls to a third straight win Wednesday night when Wall looks to help the Washington Wizards pick up their seventh victory in eight visits to the United Center.
Rose and Wall have been linked since both entered the NBA, not only because of their attacking style, but because Rose was selected first overall in 2008 after playing one season for coach John Calipari at Memphis and Wall was the '10 top pick after playing one year under Calipari at Kentucky.
Rose has always been motivated for the rivalry, averaging 25.6 points while leading the Bulls to four wins early on when both played until injuries forced him to miss eight consecutive meetings. He's also played well in the series recently, scoring 24.8 per game on 53.5 percent shooting in his last four.
"Derrick's playing at a high level right now," Wall said. "They're a team that's going to play physical. They're going to play up-tempo and you have to be ready to have your hard hat on."
Wall's Wizards have gotten the better of the matchup lately, winning nine of the past 13 - including a first-round playoff series victory in 2014 when Rose was out. Wall had 17 points and 10 assists and Rose scored 23 in Washington's 114-100 win Jan. 11 that marked its sixth victory in seven visits to the UC.
Rose is on a roll heading into this meeting, averaging 26 points over his last three games. Since scoring 92 per game with a 40.9 field-goal percentage in the last three of a five-game skid, the Bulls have averaged 121 on 53.5 percent shooting in back-to-back wins to open this three-game homestand.
"The biggest thing is Derrick, his consistency, ability to attack," forward Mike Dunleavy told the team's official website. "He's doing a good job with that. Let him keep rolling."
Chicago (29-26) hopes to continue that production against a Washington team that has allowed an average of 110.1 points and 48.1 percent shooting during a 2-5 road stretch. The Wizards (26-29), though, held New Orleans to 34.9 percent in Tuesday's 109-89 home victory.
Wall finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists for his fifth career triple-double despite shooting just 5 for 17. Marcin Gortat contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds and Jared Dudley added 18 points as Washington improved to 3-1 since the All-Star break.
Gortat and Bradley Beal did not play in the first meeting with Chicago, which holds a three-game lead over 10th-place Washington for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Gortat has averaged 16.5 and 11.1 over the past eight games, while Beal had scored 19.7 over his previous nine before finishing with nine on 3-of-10 shooting on Tuesday.
Doug McDermott has totaled 46 points while hitting 7 of 9 from 3-point range in the last two games for the Bulls, who are playing without Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. Pau Gasol has put up 20 per game over his past six and is expected to be in the lineup despite dealing with flu-like symptoms.