Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8), guard Alex Caruso (6) and forward Patrick Williams (44) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Washington. The Wizards won 100-97. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON — Kyle Kuzma broke a tie with a 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 100-97 on Wednesday night.
Following a timeout, Kuzma drove to his right and hit a leaning shot as he floated toward the Wizards’ bench.
“I was trying to give myself the best chance to make a play,” Kuzma said. “I caught the ball, I looked left, a lot of teams are forcing me left. I just had Delon (Wright) get flat a little bit. I knew I had (Alex) Caruso on me and he’s one of the better defenders in the league. Give myself a chance to pick either way instead of being directed in one. … Rose up and shot it and it went in.”
Said Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr.: “I didn’t expect him to make that (particular shot), but that was the play. If you’re a competitor, everyone dreams of that moment.”
Zach LaVine missed a 16-footer for Chicago with 2.3 seconds left, with Deni Avdija grabbing the last of his career-high 20 rebounds for Washington.
Earlier, LaVine beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer to tie it at 97.
The Wizards had a foul to give on Chicago’s last possession , and LaVine, who decided to drive instead of taking a 3-pointer when down three, said afterward he was fouled by Wright. LaVine added that Wright said, “I got you,” after the game and an official told him they missed the call.
“They didn’t call it,” LaVine said. “That’s how it is. I could have pulled up deep for 3, (but)) once I walked into it and he tried to grab me, I tried to pull up.”
Kuzma finished with 21 points. Backup forward Anthony Gill scored a career-high 18 points, and Monte Morris added 17 for Washington.
LaVine had 38 points for Chicago. Bulls scoring leader DeMar DeRozan missed his first game of the season because of quadriceps strain.
Washington overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to take seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. Morris scored 15 points in the third quarter while the Wizards romped to a 41-21 advantage.
“We talked at halftime, and some of the guys stepped up and I give them credit, about we need to understand how to come out in these first five minutes,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said. “I think Zach made the first shot of the quarter and we got outscored 41-21.”
The Wizards, down three starters, knew their best tactic Wednesday was effort. They outrebounded Chicago by 13 and repeatedly dove for loose balls in the second half.
“That was the message: you’re already undermanned, you can’t get outworked,” Unseld said.
Bulls: Alex Caruso started in DeRozan’s place.
Wizards: SG Bradley Beal (hamstring) missed his third consecutive game. F/C Kristaps Porzingis (right rib contusion) also sat out.
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