Less than 48 hours after their triple-overtime experience in Orlando, the Bulls had to peel themselves off their hotel beds and battle the Washington Wizards on Friday.
The Bulls put together a nice effort, then scored just 2 points in the final five minutes and lost 96-93 at the Verizon Center.
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Kirk Hinrich's 19-foot jumper with 5:16 remaining gave the Bulls a 91-90 edge. They didn't score again until another Hinrich jumper brought them within 96-93 with 2:20 left and then neither team scored the rest of the way.
Speaking of rest, maybe the Bulls needed more of it. They not only hit a wall in the fourth quarter, they couldn't stop Wizards guard John Wall, who piled up 23 points and 11 assists.
"The biggest problem was our turnovers," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "They're scoring the ball right now. They're in a pretty good rhythm. So the 15 turnovers turned into 25 points. That's hard to overcome."
Even though both teams started the night a game below .500, this matchup qualified as a battle for playoff position in the weak Eastern Conference. Washington (19-19) took sole position of fifth place with the win.
After Hinrich knocked down a jumper to make it 96-93 with 2:20 left, the Bulls had four chances to get closer. Jimmy Butler missed a pair of 3-pointers and after the second misfire, Joakim Noah chased down the offensive rebound in the corner, but sailed a cross-court pass out of bounds with 1:06 left.
The Bulls got two more defensive stops, but Taj Gibson came up well short on a baseline jumper and Butler's 3-point attempt just before the final buzzer was stuffed by Nene.
The final shot was supposed to go to Mike Dunleavy, but he didn't see an opening and returned the ball to Butler, who danced and faked for a few seconds, but couldn't find room to get the shot off.
"We were gonna try Mike. When he threw the ball to me, I was caught off guard by it. I think everybody was," Butler said.
Hinrich led the Bulls with 18 points. D.J. Augustin added 16, hitting 4 of 6 shots from 3-point range, while Gibson and Carlos Boozer scored 12 each.
Butler, who hit 2 of 9 shots for 9 points, was coming off a franchise-record for minutes played. He logged 60 minutes, 20 seconds against the Magic.
"I did a lot of recovery stuff so I'm good to go," Butler said earlier in the day, according to espn.com. "Some ice, some massage, sleep and eat -- I think those are the key things to recovery."
Thibodeau was a defensive when asked about Butler's playing time at the morning shootaround. Butler has been suffering from a turf toe injury on his right foot the last two months.
"If you guys study the history of the league, which I'm sure you do, and the great Bulls teams, you'd see that (Michael) Jordan, (Scottie) Pippen well into their 30s were playing huge minutes," Thibodeau said. "So I'm trying to be like Phil (Jackson)."
"Any time you have a triple-overtime game, if you look at any box score in a triple-overtime game, there's going to be guys that play minutes. You can't not play guys."
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