Wiz start slow, but turn up intensity in 2nd half to beat Bulls
A.J. Price is part of the Wizards’ walking wounded, but the point guard’s clutch shots in the fourth quarter left the Chicago Bulls hurting.
Price, who had missed nine games with a groin strain and was playing in his third in a row since, scored 13 points off the bench on 5-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-4 on three-point shots.
It was when he hit the shots, however, that helped the Wizards hold on for a comeback 90-86 win for their eight in a row at Verizon Center.
Two more victories would tie a 10-game home win streak from 2006-07.
With the score tied at 73 in the fourth quarter, Price broke it with a three-pointer at 6:19. A bucket by Nate Robinson trimmed the Wizards’ lead to one but Price struck again to push it to 79-75.
"A.J. I thought came in and had a great contribution, not only with a couple good shots but with the ability to harass Robinson a little bit," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
A bucket by Robinson tied the score at 84, but Price made a difficult fadeaway jump shot at 1:41 to answer. The Wizards went on to score the last four points of the game on a dunk from Emeka Okafor and two free throws by Trevor Ariza.
Price put his team in position to pull it out.
“Nothing felt different. I just went out there confident, played within myself. Just knocked them down,” Price said. “I was playing basketball freely –- without thinking.”
Price’s ball fake to Ariza, who was spotting up in the corner, created the space for him to get a wide-open look for that second three in the fourth quarter. He expected the Tom Thibodeau-coached Bulls to rotate to the better shooter.
“Percentage-wise, I’m sure Trevor shoots better than me,” said Price, who entered 33.3% from long range for the season. “Them as a great (coached) team with Thibodeau, they know that as well.”
The Wizards have had to manage without Price’s ball-handling ability. Starting point guard John Wall has to play extended minutes, but Price was on the floor with him simultaneously down the stretch because shooting guard Bradley Beal re-injured his sprained left ankle.
He went out at 7:58 and didn't return. Price played the entire fourth quarter. A free agent after the season, he hopes his run continues in Washington.
“I definitely want to be here,” said Price, who doesn't believe his groin injury be 100% until the off-season. “I've expressed that many times as far as coming back.”