Pierce's 22 points lead Wizards over Rose, Bulls, 105-99
CHICAGO (AP) For all the talk about LeBron James going home and Derrick Rose returning, the Washington Wizards were easy to overlook at the start of the season.
Paul Pierce had 22 points and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 105-99 on Wednesday night, despite Derrick Rose's season-high 32.
John Wall scored 10 of his 21 in the fourth quarter. Bradley Beal added 17, and the Wizards knocked off the Central division leaders for the second time in six days.
They did it on the road this time after winning at home last week. And the latest victory over the Bulls comes after the Wizards knocked off defending champion San Antonio at home the previous night.
Those are two impressive wins by a team that's demanding attention after Cleveland and Chicago got most of it in the Eastern Conference at the start of the season.
''It was important for us,'' Beal said. ''We say we want to be this elite team. We say we want to be one of the best teams in the East. You have to be able to beat a team that is also elite on the back-to-back, and that really speaks a lot for your team.''
Washington trailed by as much as 11 in the first half but outscored Chicago 32-19 in the third to take a seven-point lead to the fourth. The Wizards hung on after Chicago pulled within one, handing the Bulls their fourth loss in five games.
Rose was at his best right from the start, scoring 17 in the first quarter and nailing a half-court heave at the end of the period. He hit a season-high six 3-pointers. But the Bulls were shaky on defense again and played the second half without Joakim Noah after he injured his right ankle.
''It is basketball. You can't play this sport and be perfect,'' Rose said. ''We're just going through a little bit of adversity right now. But it seems like guys are trying their hardest and it's just not going our way right now.''
Taj Gibson had just dunked to pull Chicago within 83-82 when Kris Humphries put back a vicious one-hander off a miss by Rasual Butler to start a 12-3 run that bumped the lead back up to 10.
Pierce capped that run with a 3-pointer to make it 95-85 with just over four minutes remaining.
The Bulls were within six after Aaron Brooks nailed one from long range. Wall answered with a 3 of his own to make it 100-91 with 2:29 left. With the win, the Wizards took out another top team after ending a 17-game losing streak to the Spurs the previous night.
''That was a professional win,'' coach Randy Wittman said. ''That's being professional.''
Rose nailed three 3-pointers and hit 7 of 9 shots in a scorching first quarter as the Bulls built a 32-26 lead, and he ended it in spectacular fashion.
He raced up the left side after Washington's Kris Humphries hit two free throws and swished a heave from just inside the half-court line, the crowd roaring as the ball fell through the net.
The Bulls lost Noah at the end of the half when he rolled his right ankle going for an offensive rebound. He came out for warmups, but Gibson started the third quarter in his place.
Coach Tom Thibodeau had no update on him after the game.
''Tomorrow, we'll see where he is,'' Thibodeau said.
Wizards: Coach Randy Wittman wasn't putting much stock in the Wizards beating the Bulls in the playoffs last season. After all, the Bulls did not have the injured Rose. Pau Gasol was still with the Lakers, and Nikola Mirotic was in Europe. ''It's not the same cast of characters that's we've played the last couple of years,'' Wittman said.
Bulls: Rookie Doug McDermott appears close to returning after being sidelined for six weeks by a right knee injury. A first-round draft pick, he has not played since Nov. 30. But Thibodeau said he could be back in ''three or four days, maybe something like that hopefully.'' Chicago visits Boston on Friday and hosts Atlanta on Saturday. ... Veteran Mike Dunleavy Jr. missed his seventh straight game because of a sore right ankle.
Wizards: Host Brooklyn on Friday.
Bulls: Visit Boston on Friday