Wizards’ Thomas out to prove he’s back vs. Bulls
The Washington Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak Monday behind the familiar heroics of Bradley Beal and the return of guard Isaiah Thomas, who had been sidelined for the previous five contests with a left calf strain.
After scoring 23 points and drilling three late 3-pointers to help seal a 133-119 victory at the Detroit Pistons on Monday, Thomas effectively served notice to the Chicago Bulls, who’ll visit the Wizards on Wednesday night: He’s back.
“Slowly, I’m feeling like myself more and more each and every game, each and every day, so I definitely envision fourth quarters being like that, full games being like that,” Thomas said.
Against Detroit, Washington recorded its sixth game of 130 or more points this season, tying a league high after accomplishing the feat for the first time since Nov. 27.
Battling numerous injuries, the Wizards started usual reserves Davis Bertans and Troy Brown Jr. at forward, but an unfamiliar lineup clicked just the same. The Wizards raced to a season-high 43 points in the first quarter behind 17-for-21 (81 percent) shooting.
“This is the best game we’ve played in terms of putting it all together,” Beal said after posting a double-double of 35 points and 10 assists. “Our preparation, I think, is what won us the game.”
Shortly after the Wizards concluded their feel-good victory on Monday, the Bulls completed a frustrating collapse. Chicago sprinted to a 26-point second-quarter lead at Oklahoma City and was up by 19 at the break, but ultimately lost 109-106 to the Thunder.
Chicago coach Jim Boylen agreed it was not the way for the team to start a four-game road trip, but vowed to keep pushing his players toward improvement while never questioning their toughness.
“I don’t believe in the word ‘soft’ because I don’t think we have those kinds of guys,” Boylen said. “I just think it’s a learning thing, how to play physical in this league, how to defend without fouling and be physical, how to play offensive basketball where you absorb contact and embrace pressure. Those are just growth plates for our team.
“[Los Angeles Clippers coach] Doc Rivers said to me — we talked before the game [Saturday] — ‘Hey, you guys are playing hard; you’re just young.’ And I think some of that is newness, youngness and just learning how to play at this level. This is the top level. So we’ll keep coaching it and teaching it and showing it, and we’ll grow with it.”
Wednesday marks the first meeting of the season between the Bulls and Wizards. The teams are set to meet in Chicago on Jan. 15 before facing off twice over a four-game span in February.
Chicago won last year’s season series 3-1, including victories in both road games at Capital One Arena.
The Bulls have 14 games with at least 10 steals this season after finishing with 17 against the Thunder.
“They were so aggressive and a lot of our turnovers were turning into buckets for them,” Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul said.
Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura left Monday’s game with a groin injury.
–Field Level Media