Wizards above .500 after Wall keys 101-99 win over Bulls
By IAN QUILLEN
Then the Washington Wizards star warned the Chicago Bulls rookie: "You woke a monster up."
The Wizards rallied, and Wall hit a game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds left as Washington defeated Chicago 101-99 to move above .500 for the first time in more than a year.
Wall finished with 26 points and 14 assists to overshadow Valentine, who posted career highs with 19 points and five 3-pointers.
After Valentine's last 3, he had the nerve to dance near the halfcourt circle with Chicago up 92-85 with 7:38 to play.
"I just walked over there and as I was coming out of the huddle I said, `That's how you feel?'" Wall recalled. "And I said, `You woke a monster up.'"
Marcin Gortat had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Washington. He also set the screen that freed up Wall for his tiebreaking jumper to seal a 10th straight home win.
"Exhausting," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of the first half. "Tonight we relaxed and gave guys open 3s and they made them."
Taj Gibson finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls. Rajon Rondo added 12 points in his first game since Dec. 30, when coach Fred Hoiberg began keeping the healthy four-time All-Star on the bench.
"I thought he went out there and played his role exactly as we needed him to," Hoiberg said of Rondo. "He was impressive going to the basket, getting shots at the rim. ... I thought he did a good job organizing us, getting us into offense."
After Wall had a basket and an assist during a 10-0 response to Valentine's 3, the Bulls regained the lead before Wall's pull-up from near the foul line tied it at 99 with 47.4 seconds left.
Chicago's Michael Carter-Williams missed a contested shot on the other end with about 30 seconds left.
After a timeout, Doug McDermott missed a long 3-pointer for the Bulls, and Wall grabbed the rebound with a second to go.
"I've been in that situation plenty of times where I've missed that shot, and didn't have the confidence to even take it," Wall said. "But I felt confident with that one, and I'm glad we got a stop when we did."
Before the game, Rondo said he was told by a member of the Chicago coaching staff that Hoiberg was "saving me from myself" by benching the four-time All-Star for the past five games.
Rondo was surprised by the comment and said he did not understand it.
"Save me from myself?" he said. "I've never heard that before in my life. I guess he was trying to do the best thing for me."
Rondo hadn't played since posting a plus-minus rating of minus-20 during 11 first-half minutes in Chicago's 111-101 loss at Indiana on Dec. 30. He averaged 7.2 points, 7.1 assists and 6.5 rebounds over 29 games before falling out of favor.
Hoiberg declined to elaborate but said he expected Rondo to play again Thursday.
Washington's 10 consecutive home victories mark the Wizards' longest such stretch since winning 10 straight in December and January of the 2006-07 season.
At 19-18, Washington is over .500 for the first time since it was 6-5 last season after a victory on Nov. 24, 2015.
Bulls: Shot 8 of 10 on 3-pointers in the first half. ... Valentine surpassed his previous career high of nine points when his third 3-pointer gave him 11 with 2:22 to go before halftime.
Wizards: Have the longest active home winning streak in the NBA after San Antonio's loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. ... Committed 13 turnovers before halftime. ... Morris fouled out with 3:58 to play after picking up his fifth and sixth fouls 25 seconds apart.
Bulls: Try to even their season series with the New York Knicks at 1-all when they visit Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Wizards: Complete their eighth set of back-to-back games Wednesday at Boston.
Updated January 10, 2017