WASHINGTON – John Wall had 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Emeka Okafor scored the go-ahead dunk in the final minute and the Washington Wizards won their eighth straight home game Tuesday night, beating the temperamental Bulls, 90-86.
Wall was 8 for 17 from the field and 11 for 13 at the free throw line as the Wizards maintained pursuit of their goal of becoming the best team not to make the playoffs. They want to pass the Philadelphia 76ers and finish ninth in the Eastern Conference – not bad for a team that started 4-28 – and Tuesday’s win left them 2½ games back with eight to play.
Wall is averaging 23.7 points and 8.6 assists during the home winning streak.
Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bulls, who are vying for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The loss put them two games behind the fourth-place Brooklyn Nets in the East. The Bulls visit Brooklyn on Thursday.
One of the Bulls’ biggest challenges was having enough players to finish the game. Taj Gibson left in the first half with a left knee injury and did not return, and Kirk Hinrich was tossed with 3:19 to play for picking up a pair of technicals after teammate Nazr Mohammed was called for basket interference while tipping in a rebound.
Boozer was whistled for a technical in the third quarter, and Hinrich and Mohammed both picked up their fourth fouls in the third.
The Bulls were already without Derrick Rose (left knee), Joakim Noah (right foot), Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) and Richard Hamilton (lower back).
While the Bulls are undermanned, the Wizards are about as healthy as they’ve been all season.
Nene returned after missing four games with a sore right knee, leaving only out-for-the-year Leandro Barbosa (left knee) as the only player not available for coach Randy Wittman.
Nene finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Neither team led by more than 10 in a game that matched teams equalized by their various injuries and motivations for the rest of the season.
The Bulls did just enough to stay in front for most of three quarters, but the Wizards finally took their first lead of the game on Okafor’s 15-foot jumper with 3:38 to play in the third quarter.
Washington lead 70-69 at the start of the fourth, and then the game became as quiet as the laid-back Verizon Center crowd. Only one point was scored in the first four minutes of the final period. Mohammed’s tip-in tied the score at 71 with 7:50 to play got the game rolling again, and his later tip-in would have given the Bulls a lead had the ball not been in the cylinder.
Hinrich was ejected in the aftermath of that call, but Wall made only one of two free throws to give the Wizards an 84-82 lead. Nate Robinson tied the game with a 21-foot jumper with 2:06 to play, and A.J. Price put Washington back in front with a baseline jumper with 1:41 remaining.
Mohammed’s putback tied the game again with 57 seconds left.
Okafor’s dunk, on a feed from Nene, gave the Wizards an 88-86 lead with 46 seconds to play. Jimmy Butler missed a jumper for the Bulls, and Trevor Ariza made two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to give Washington the four-point margin of victory.
Notes: Wall had the block of the game, using his right hand to slap away Deng’s fast-break layup attempt in the second quarter. ... The Bulls committed only one turnover in the first half. ... The Wizards’ home winning streak is their longest since a 10-game run from Dec. 13, 2006 to Jan. 20, 2007.
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