The Chicago Bulls are finally at (somewhat) full strength. Joakim Noah is once again starting at center, and forward Luol Deng will be playing limited minutes after missing 11 straight games. Tonight, they go to Washington to face the Wizards who have just broken a 16-game losing streak.
All-Star point guard Derrick Rose has strung together three very solid games passing-wise, averaging 9.3 assists. Despite his 10-assist outing against Phoenix, the Bulls lost in the final moments.
Joakim Noah has come off the bench the past six games, but has finally re-entered the starting five after scoring 12 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and swatting two shots on Tuesday. Brad Miller will now lead the second unit, which includes Flip Murray, Hakim Warrick and likely Luol Deng for tonight.
Rookie forwards James Johnson and Taj Gibson are expected to start again. Johnson, picked 16th in the draft last year, has struggled finding consistency but has shown flashes of solid court vision and good dribble drives. The 6'8 forward came out recently and stated he had lost 35 pounds since training camp, bringing his weigth from 267 down to 232.
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich twisted his ankle against Phoenix, but is expected to start in Washington. The 6'3 guard has struggled this season, and will once again be surrounded by trade rumors when the season ends.
With the Toronto Raptors winning over Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the Bulls find themselves two games back from the eigth seed. Every game from here on out has to be played with a playoff mentality.