Bulls rout the Wizards 105-77 behind Scalabrine's MVP performance

It got so bad tonight that Brian Scalabrine, after banking in a 20-footer late in the fourth quarter, started getting MVP chants from the mostly red crowd at the Verizon Center.

And it could have been even worse if the Chicago Bulls didn't have 17 turnovers which led to 14 fastbreak points for the Washington Wizards.

The Bulls, improving to 41-17, tying their win total from last season, were led by a 21-point, 5-rebound, 9-assist performance from Derrick Rose.

He had 11 of his 21 points in the third quarter and took a 13-point halftime lead and helped the Bulls extend it to 21. Rose controlled the game all night, although he didn't shoot great from the field (7-for-17), keep in mind he started the game 1-for-7.

Rose did it all tonight -- controlled the pace in the first half, scored the ball in the third quarter, and then decided to pass it around and get his teammates easy shots in the fourth.

One play sticks out: on a 3-on-1 fastbreak, Rose had a full head of steam with Wall back-peddling, and Rose threw a between-the-leg pass behind him tot he trailing Joakim Noah for the jam. It was nasty.

John Wall just couldn't guard Rose, and for the second straight night, you got the feel that Rose could have taken over at any point if he really wanted to.

Wall, another John Calipari-coached guard, had a near double-double with 9 points and 10 assists, but he shot just 3-for-14 from the field and had several passes leading to turnovers.

A problem with Wall is that his jump-shot isn't nearly at Rose's level, and tonight he played way too passive with his team down by double-digits for most of the game.

Let's take a closer look at tonight's win against the Wizards:

What led to the Bulls win:
For the second straight game, the Bulls held their opponent to under 78 points and 40% shooting.

On Saturday night, the Milwaukee Bucks scored just 77 points on 38% from the field; tonight the Bulls defense was even better, as they allowed the Wizards to shoot 36% from the field.

The Bulls, led by Joakim Noah's game-high 11 rebounds, demolished the Wizards on the boards: 56-39.

Noah has been a rebounding machine since coming back from his thumb injury, averaging 10.3 rebounds in four games. Without Noah, the Bulls simply didn't have anyone who could legitimately defend the rim.

Kurt Thomas, who was a DNP-CD for the third straight game, did a good job in Noah's absence, but he didn't have the athleticism or speed to provide as much help-side defense as Noah does.

Noah had 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting in what was by far his best offensive performance since returning; he had a few hook shots, and as usual, several dunks, including a sick alley-oop dunk on the fastbreak on a pass from Rose.

With Noah back, the Bulls are much better offensively, and most importantly, defensively. It's no fluke that the Bulls have held their opponents to one of the lowest scoring games of the season with Noah back (Lowest for the Bucks, second-lowest for the Wizards).

Similar to how they played the Bucks, the Bulls allowed the Wizards to jack up plenty of jumpers. It was perplexing to see guys like Andray Blatche and Josh Howard chuck up shots that make you question their shot discipline.

What does it signify: The Bulls are now 41-17, a win total they didn't reach until the final game of the season last year. When Tom Thibodeau took the job in the summer, not even he could have imagined how good the Bulls have been this season.

With the addition of Carlos Boozer, improvement of Noah and Rose, and the steady, consistent play of Luol Deng, it's been coming together for the Bulls this year and they're looking very good right now.

With the 28-point win, it was great to see the Bulls finally put a beating on a team on the road. It was by far their biggest win on the road this season, and it came at the right time, as the Bulls will play three Eastern Conference playoff teams in the coming days.

Key performances: Deng had another great night, with 21 points and 5 rebounds on 9-for-17 shooting. The Bulls didn't acquire a big scorer at the deadline, but ever since the deadline passed last Thursday, Deng has been on a rampage, averaging 19.7 points in three games.

During that span, the Bulls' second-leading scorer Carlos Boozer, who scored just 12 points tonight, is averaging just 13.6 points and hasn't been that aggressive to get his own offense going. Deng, like he has all season, is giving the Bulls a reliable, consistent performance night-in, night-out.

Kyle Korver followed up his 11-point night with another 11-point night. Korver's had an up-and-down season scoring-wise, but in February he's shooting a season-high 49% from the field and 47% from the three-point line.

Korver is the Bulls' most feared shooter and it makes the Bulls even more dangerous if he can become the knock-down shooter many fans thought he would be. He's been inconsistent shooting thus far, but it seems like he's been getting better month-by-month, increasing his three-point percentage the past three months.

Final notes: Rose, for the second straight game, got MVP chants. Although it wasn't as big as it was in Milwaukee, it's still great to see the amount of Bulls fans at a game all the way in Washington D.C.

Speaking of MVP chants, Scalabrine also got MVP chants tonight after he banked in a 20-footer from the side -- sort of like Tim Duncan.

What's next: March 2nd: Bulls (41-17) @ Atlanta Hawks (36-23). 6:00pm C.S.T. WCIU/ESPN 1000

The Bulls will face the Hawks for the first time this season and it will be a good test for them. The Hawks are currently in the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the 4th seed, and they've had an up-and-down season filled with wins against good teams, and bad.

The upcoming three games will say a lot about the Bulls -- as they will face the Magic and Miami Heat in the two games after Wednesday night's tilt against the Hawks.

Leave a comment