National Basketball Association
Bulls-Wizards Preview
National Basketball Association

Bulls-Wizards Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:23 a.m. ET

After using a clip from a comedy classic to motivate his Chicago Bulls, it's uncertain what methods coach Fred Hoiberg will use to help them build on their latest victory.

Perhaps the chance to win back-to-back road games for the first time in well over a month will provide enough incentive Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Amid a season filled with injuries and underachievement, Hoiberg is trying to keep Chicago's morale from completely fading. Leading up to Monday's visit to Toronto, Hoiberg showed his team John Belushi's inaccurately funny "Was it over when the Germans bombed Peal Harbor?" motivational scene from the movie "Animal House" to lighten the mood.

"If your spirit gets broken, you have no chance," Hoiberg told the Bulls' official website. "We got to find a way to deal with it and go out and give ourselves a chance."


It's uncertain if that scene pumped up the Bulls (33-32) enough to beat the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors 109-107. But minus Pau Gasol (knee), Derrick Rose (groin) and Mike Dunleavy (stomach virus), Chicago put forth a strong effort to snap a season-high eight-game road skid.

"It's just really good for our confidence, our motivation going forward," said forward Doug McDermott, who had 29 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Leading Detroit by a percentage point for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls will again be without Gasol. It's uncertain if Rose will sit his third straight contest or if Dunleavy will be ready.

Jimmy Butler should be available after scoring 13 points in 33 minutes Monday in his return from a three-game absence due to knee soreness.

"My team needs me to get us into the playoffs," the All-Star Butler said. "Go out there and do whatever it takes to help us win."

Butler will try to help the Bulls win consecutive road games for the first time since Jan. 23 and 28 and improve a defense that's yielded an average of 109.8 points in the last 12 away from home.

Making their first trip to Washington this season, the Bulls gave up an average of 109.0 points while splitting the first two meetings.

Sitting 10th in the East and 2 1/2 games behind Chicago and Detroit, the Wizards (31-35) snapped a season-high five-game skid with Monday's 124-81 rout of the Pistons. Nene scored 20 off the bench and John Wall had 12 assists in Washington's most lopsided victory since beating Boston by 45 in 2002-03.

''As I told them, remember this, learn from it," coach Randy Wittman said. "They were locked in."

After shooting 43.0 percent and averaging 96.8 points during the losing streak, the Wizards set season highs for points and field-goal percentage (56.7). They also yielded their fewest points of 2015-16 after the previous five opponents averaged 110.8.

"It doesn't matter what the scheme ... defensively, if you don't play consistently it's not going to work," Wittman said.

With 33 points and 17 assists in the first two against the Bulls, Wall was held below his season averages of 20.0 and 9.9.

Butler, who missed a 109-104 win over the Wizards on Feb. 24, had 19 points in a 114-100 loss Jan. 11. He averaged 7.7 points and shot 32.0 percent in his first 13 matchups in the series.


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