WASHINGTON – Walt Lemon Jr. has seen much of the world during his professional basketball career. It has taken him to Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Greece and to the G League.
And, the NBA.
In only his eighth game in the league – and third with the Bulls – he scored a career-high 24 points, including two free throws with 1.8 seconds to play, to help the Bulls snap a five-game losing streak with a 115-114 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
“Nobody really expected me to be here, and the fact that the Bulls gave me the opportunity to play, let alone giving me the chance to win an NBA game, is – I can’t ask for more, man,” said Lemon, who played in five games with New Orleans last season.
Lemon was one of seven Bulls in double figures in a matchup of teams whose seasons will end without a playoff appearance.
“I love guys that get opportunities and they take advantage of them,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “He was a handful. We couldn’t stay in front of him.”
JaKarr Sampson added 18 points for the Bulls.
Thomas Bryant scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Washington. Bobby Portis had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Bradley Beal added 19 points.
The Wizards played their first game since Ernie Grunfeld was fired as team president after 16 seasons Tuesday.
The Bulls trailed by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but took a 113-112 lead on Lemon’s layup with 30 seconds to play. Chasson Randle hit two free throws with 12.7 seconds to play to give Washington a 114-113 lead.
Bulls: Guard Kris Dunn (back) was out for the fifth straight game. Coach Jim Boylen hopes Dunn can stay healthy for the 2019-20 season. “Next year starts today,” Boylen has told Dunn and the other players. “It doesn’t start next year.” ... Forward Otto Porter has been out for eight straight games with a strained right rotator cuff. It was the first time Porter, who was traded from Washington, had returned since the Feb. 6 trade. A video tribute was played in the first quarter.
Wizards: Beal became the first player in franchise history with 2,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists in a season. ... Forward Jabari Parker strained his left knee in the second quarter and did not return. ... Brooks said that hearing Grunfeld had been fired was difficult. “I don’t take lightly somebody losing their job,” Brooks said. “You understand that, and you move on. That’s what we have to do.” ... Forward Jeff Green did not play for the third straight game. “There’s only so many minutes you can give guys and Jeff has had a good year for us,” Brooks said. “I want to see a few other guys. ... He’s going to play another game or two.”
LATE ON THE COURT:
The Wizards took advantage of Chicago’s Cristiano Felicio’s absence on the sequence that led to Randle’s two free throws.
“He asked one of our coaches if we had a foul to give, and they just started without him,” Boylen said. “I’d never seen that before. I think they thought all 10 guys were out there, and they weren’t.”
BEAL WANTS TO PLAY:
Beal played the entire first quarter, nearly all of the third quarter, but didn’t play in the second and fourth quarters.
“Guys are playing minutes that we have to make decisions on,” Brooks said.
Beal said he’d like to play the remaining three games to play the entire schedule.
“I made my decision,” Beal said. “I’ll finish out all 82.”
Bulls: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday
Wizards: Host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
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