If a team ever had an excuse to lose to a unit as woeful as these Washington Wizards, it was tonight's Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were playing their third straight game and were without their three best guards, including superstar Derrick Rose who aggravated a toe injury during last night's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even with dead legs and banged up roster, Chicago was still able to defeat Washington 78-64.
This one will be forever remembered as the John Lucas III Game. Lucas III nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. It was hardly an efficient performance, though. Lucas jacked up 28 shots (connecting on 11 of them) and finished just 1-for-7 from three-point range. Kyle Korver was Chicago's second leading scorer, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Luol Deng added 12 points and 15 rebounds for Chicago on 5-of-21 shooting.
As a team, Chicago shot just 37 percent.
Washington was led by Jordan Crawford, who scored 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
It could have been reasonably assumed that the Chicago Bulls' Wednesday night contest against the Washington Wizards would be an ugly affair. Chicago is playing its third consecutive game, and is missing its three best guards. But the Bulls have done enough so far to take a 57-53 lead into the fourth quarter against Washington.
Point guard John Lucas III is getting rare start in Rose's absence, and is the team's leading scorer with 18 points. It's hardly been an efficient tonight for Lucas III, though: he's already taken 22 shots, making eight of them. Luol Deng is the Bulls' second leading scorer with 12 points on just 5-for-19 shooting. Deng has also grabbed 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer, the Bulls' highly paid forward meant to be the second banana to Rose, is just 2-for-7 for four points.
The Washington Wizards may be the worst team in basketball, but coach Flip Saunders' team received a gift today when they learned Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose would miss his first game of the season with a toe injury. Even with Chicago down their three best guards (C.J. Watson and Richard Hamilton are also hurt), the Bulls are clinging to a 45-37 halftime lead.
Three string point guard John Lucas the third has played every minute with Rose and Watson both injury, and he's left his imprint all the game. Lucas took a jarring 15 shots in the first half, connecting on just five of them. He's 0-for-5 from three-point range, but finishes the half with a team leading 12 points. Luol Deng has eight points on just 3-for-11 shooting, while Kyle Korver came off the bench to connect on two three-pointers to end the half with seven points.
Forward Rashard Lewis came off the bench to score a team-leading eight points for the Wizards.
Rose played brilliantly in the second half of Tuesday's game after the injury, finishing the game with 31 points and 11 assists in a 111-100 victory over Minnesota. He aggravated his turf toe early in the first quarter during a collision with Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver, but returned to the game after a short trip to the locker room. Following the game, he vowed to play against the Wizards on Wednesday, but that now appears unlikely as the situation has worsened.
The Chicago Bulls have signed point guard Mike James from the National Basketball Association Development League, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. James played just two games for the Erie Bayhawks before getting the call, as the Bulls look to add some depth at point guard while Derrick Rose deals with an aggravated turf toe injury.
Rose has already told reporters that he doesn't expect to miss any games while dealing with the turf toe, but Chicago clearly doesn't want to push its star player too hard this early in the season. With Rose's primary back-up, C.J. Watson, also hobbled with injuries at this point, the Bulls had just John Lucas III on the roster to back-up Rose before James' signing.
James, 36, spent last season playing in China and Turkey before making the decision to try to return to the NBA. He scored 23 points in his first game with Erie, apparently getting the attention of Bulls decision-makers. Once a journeyman in the NBA, James has averaged 10.5 points and 3.6 assists per game over the course of nine seasons.
The Chicago Bulls finish off their first back-to-back-to-back of the season on Wednesday when they visit D.C. to play the Washington Wizards. Chicago had a six-game winning streak snapped by Atlanta last week, but it has won games in back-to-back days against Detroit and Minnesota coming into this game. The Wizards, on the other hand, just notched their first win of the season against Toronto on Tuesday.
This will be the ninth game in 12 days for the Bulls, who have still played quite well of late. Chicago may not have Derrick Rose at full strength as he deals with a turf toe injury that he aggravated against Minnesota, but he's expected to suit up against Wizards point guard John Wall, another former No. 1 overall pick.