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updated: 4/5/2014 11:50 PM

Poof! Wizards' hope of season sweep vanish quickly

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  • Bulls guard D.J. Augustin (14) takes a shot against Washington Wizards' John Wall (2) and Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington. The Bulls won 96-78.

      Bulls guard D.J. Augustin (14) takes a shot against Washington Wizards' John Wall (2) and Marcin Gortat (4), of Poland, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington. The Bulls won 96-78.
    Associated Press

 
 

Since 2010, when Tom Thibodeau became coach, the Bulls have never been swept in a season series by an Eastern Conference team.

This is just a guess, but Thibodeau is probably on top of that sort of info.

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Washington had a chance to sweep the Bulls 3-0 with a win on Saturday. As is usually the case, though, when the Bulls have reason to take a regular-season game seriously, the results are positive.

The Bulls dominated the first half against the Wizards, eased up a little in the third quarter, but still cruised to a 96-78 victory at the Verizon Center.

D.J. Augustin led the Bulls (45-32) with 25 points, hitting 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range. Joakim Noah added 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Carlos Boozer scored 16.

"We lost to these guys at home. We lost to them here. It was just (about) getting this win tonight," Augustin told reporters after the game. "We're not looking forward to the playoffs just yet, but we wanted to come out tonight and do it for ourselves."

Washington (40-37) scored just 26 points in the first half, shooting 31 percent from the field. The Wizards' previous low for first-half points this season was 36.

"We wanted to throw the first punch tonight, and I think we did a good job with that," Noah said. "In the beginning of the game, we were the more aggressive team. Usually, the most aggressive team wins."

The Bulls rolled into halftime with a commanding 52-26 lead behind 17 first-half points by Augustin. Washington had an answer in the third quarter, ringing up 26 points in just over eight minutes.

The Wizards ended up scoring 35 points in the third quarter and trimming the lead to 72-61 on a jumper by Martell Webster with 1:10 left in the third. The Bulls finished the quarter with baskets by Boozer and Augustin.

Then after Marcin Gortat opened the fourth quarter with a lay in to pull Washington within 76-63, the Bulls used a 9-0 run to put the game away. Noah scored the first 7 of those points, then Taj Gibson added a pair of free throws to make it a 22-point spread.

"We can really dominate teams at times, especially just with our defense alone," Gibson said, according to espn.com. "I think that our defense was great. We were smothering them on all cylinders. ... They were (ticked). They were taking shots they normally didn't want to take."

This has the potential to be a first-round playoff preview, although if the season ended Saturday night, the Bulls would face Brooklyn.

Toronto won at Milwaukee on Saturday, so the Bulls and Raptors remain tied for third place in the East. Toronto would win the tiebreaker, though, by being a division champion.

The Wizards are just a game ahead of Charlotte for sixth place and those teams play Wednesday in Washington. The Bobcats lead the season series 2-1.

The Bulls are off until Wednesday when they visit Minnesota. They'll likely have at least one new player by then. Utah claimed ex-Bulls forward Erik Murphy off waivers on Saturday.

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