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East-leading Bulls win against Wizards

CHICAGO (AP) – Coach Billy Donovan chose to focus more on where the Chicago Bulls need to improve than a win streak that’s their longest in more than a decade.

“We have to get better,” he said. “We just have to get better.”

The Bulls didn’t look bad in beating the Washington Wizards 130-122 yesterday for their ninth straight win.

Zach LaVine scored 27 points. Coby White added 21 and the Bulls matched their longest win streak since the 2010-11 team won nine in a row to finish the regular season. They also had an easier time in this one after winning last week at Washington on DeMar DeRozan’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, grabbing the lead late in the third quarter and remaining in control down the stretch.

Donovan sure will take it.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine shoots over Washington Wizards centre Daniel Gafford during the game. PHOTO: AP

He praised the effort and resilience his team is showing this season. The Bulls have been hit hard by COVID-19, with players and Donovan getting sidelined. They lead the Eastern Conference and are setting themselves up to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

“We’ve got to be better defensively,” Donovan said. “I thought we did some really good things offensively tonight with our unselfishness and the way we moved and shared the basketball. I think if you spoke to those guys, they would say that we’ve got to keep getting better defensively. We have the capability.”

Lonzo Ball and rookie Ayo Dosunmu each scored 18 points. Ball hit six of Chicago’s 15 three-pointers, and White buried four.

Dosunmu, who had his number retired at Illinois on Thursday, and White led a huge effort by the bench. Chicago’s reserves outscored Washington’s 52-29 and shot a combined 20 of 25.

Donovan earned his 300th NBA win over seven seasons with Chicago and Oklahoma City.

And the Bulls remained unbeaten since a loss at Miami on December 11.

“It’s fun,” White said. “It’s dope. We don’t take it for granted. But the same time, we still have to push and get better in all areas as a team.”

Bradley Beal led Washington with 26 points. Kyle Kuzma had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points.

The Wizards shot 51.1 per cent but committed 15 turnovers in losing for the third time in four games. They also fell below .500 for the first time this season at 19-20.

“Our care factor has to be better,” coach Wes Unseld Jr said.

“It just has to. We’ve seen early in the year where we can be and how we can play when we guard. We haven’t seen it since. That’s probably the most frustrating thing for me.”

It was tied at 87 when Ball nailed a three with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter, starting a 10-2 run in which LaVine scored seven points.

White poured in eight over the final 1:17 of the quarter, hitting two 3s and a runner at the buzzer that made it 107-95. The Bulls remained in control the rest of the way.

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