The Bulls defeated the Wizards 103-96 at the United Center last night, but the most notable event in that game — which wasn’t as close as the score; Washington cut an 18-point deficit down by draining several threes late in the fourth quarter — was the first of many meetings between young guards Derrick Rose and John Wall.
Wall, the No. 1 pick in last June’s draft out of Kentucky, is 20 years old, the same age as Rose was when he was drafted by the Bulls with that same top choice in 2008. And Rose’s experience clearly showed last night when he made Wall look silly with some cute moves and a fancy shot over him.
Rose finished last night’s game with 24 points, eight assists and four rebounds in his 36 minutes of playing time. Wall countered with 16 points, six assists and two rebounds and played about 31 minutes.
There’s no question that John Wall is going to be a star in the NBA and he and Rose could dominate All-Star teams for the next decade. Wall will need a better “supporting cast”, as the NBA all-star mantra goes — his team is off to a 2-6 start.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are now 5-3 in the early going — 5-1 at home — and look like they’re meshing well. And that’s without the injured Carlos Boozer, who may be back in about three weeks. The Bulls will be a force to contend with in the Eastern Conference this year.
Luol Deng supplied 20 points and nine rebounds and Keith Bogans finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for the Bulls, who have won three straight.
"I thought we didn't cover well," said Deng. "We were scoring at the other end, but we can't be giving up baskets the way we did tonight."
Gilbert Arenas finished with 30 points and John Wall ended with 16 points and six assists for Washington, which has lost back-to-back games and four of its last five.
"He's kind of going through training camp right now," said Washington head coach Flip Saunders about Arenas. "I think the last few days he's worked hard and has been shooting the ball well."
After a back-and-forth first quarter the Wizards held a 25-24 advantage.
Deng hit a jumper early in the second quarter to take the lead, 29-27, and the Bulls never trailed from there, capitalizing on 8-of-24 shooting from the Wizards in the second frame to take a 50-42 leading heading to the locker room.
Rose added eight points in the third and Chicago stretched their lead to as many as 18 to take 72-58 margin heading to the final stanza.
Washington tried to surge in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls' early lead was too much to overcome. Wall hit a three with 30.9 ticks remaining to put the game at 97-91 and from there the Bulls hit on 6-of-6 from the free throw line to preserve the victory.
Taj Gibson finished with nine points and seven rebounds for Chicago...Nick Young contributed 11 points on 5-of-9 from the field in a reserve role for the Wizards...Washington forward Yi Jianlian left the game in the third quarter with what the team called a bone bruise in his knee.
Washington Wizards fans were excited last June when their team, having received the No. 1 pick in the draft via lottery, selected 6-4 guard John Wall from Kentucky. He was expected to bring immediate respectability and possible playoff contention to Washington.
It's too early to know if that's going to happen; the Wizards are off to a 2-5 start, but Wall is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 assists per game. He's third in the NBA in assists per game and leading the league with 3.3 steals per game.
The Bulls have their own match for Wall in Derrick Rose, who is currently tied for eighth in the NBA with the Rockets' Kevin Martin with 23.6 points per game. This will be the first of many matchups for these young stars, who could both be dominant forces in the league for years to come.
Tonight's game at the United Center begins at 7 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN.