Falling a season-low five games below .500 carries a sting for the Chicago Bulls, to be sure.
Still, team leaders DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine remain steadfast the Bulls won’t allow the skid to discourage them.
“We got urgency,” LaVine said. “We talk to each other every day. We watch film. We have pride. Guys have individual goals. It’s just executing it.”
Chicago enters Wednesday’s visit from the Washington Wizards on a three-game losing streak. The team’s West Coast road trip concluded with a 2-4 mark, though just one defeat came by double digits.
Acknowledging his personal struggles during Sunday’s 110-101 loss at Sacramento, DeRozan appeared confident the Bulls would work through matters to spark a turnaround.
Why? He sees it in their faces.
“That’s the beauty of sports,” DeRozan said. “When you’re down, how do you respond to it? A true competitor is going to pull through. All these guys show frustration, show anger. And that’s a great sign.”
LaVine displayed both brilliance and defiance in Sacramento, scoring a season-best 41 points while being whistled for a technical foul and darting from the floor to the locker room once the game ended.
Chicago slashed an 18-point deficit to two in the fourth quarter but was unable to sustain its charge as starter Javonte Green (right knee soreness) missed the game.
Washington has lost three straight and six of seven. The Wizards are coming off the largest of their defeats in that span, Sunday’s 130-119 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, which also saw leading scorer Bradley Beal depart in the first quarter with a strained right hamstring.
Beal, who is averaging 22.9 points and shooting a career-best 52.2 percent shooting, will miss the next three games.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team. We need him on the floor,” Washington’s Corey Kispert said. “But whether it’s a good thing or not, we’ve experienced playing without Brad last year (following various injuries). A lot of guys on this team did that. We know exactly what to do, just kind of a mindset change and a little bit of a style change. But we need (Beal) on the floor. We want him out there.”
Wednesday begins a stretch in which the Wizards will play eight of their next 10 on the road, including a six-game, West Coast road trip featuring a pair of back-to-backs.
“We’re not going to let go of the season right now,” Kyle Kuzma said. “We’ve still got a chance. We’ve just got to figure it out collectively.”
Washington edged visiting Chicago 102-100 on Oct. 21 in the teams’ first of four meetings this season, as Beal hit a leaning bank shot with 7.4 seconds to play to provide the winning margin.
DeRozan led all scorers with 32 points, his 10th career effort of at least 30 points against Washington.
Chicago has won four of the past five meetings with Washington at United Center and seven of the past nine overall. The Bulls lead the all-time series 129-108.
–Field Level Media