Bulls beat Wizards behind Marco Belinelli’s 17 off bench
ASSOCIATED PRESS December 29, 2012 9:48PM
Chicago Bulls Marco Belinelli, left, of Italy, celebrates with Nate Robinson after scoring a three-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. The Bulls won 87-77. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: December 29, 2012 9:55PM
Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points and lead the Bulls to an 87-77 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at the United Center.
Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls (16-12), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Belinelli made 7 of 16 shots in a reserve role as Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton had missed 12 games because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
Chicago’s Luol Deng scored 11 points after injuring his right ankle Tuesday in a loss to Houston.
Bradley Beal led the NBA-worst Wizards (4-24) with 14 points. Kevin Seraphin had 12 points, and Emeka Okafor added 11 points and 18 rebounds for Washington, which has lost nine of 10.
Wizards leading scorer Jordan Crawford, averaging 16 points per game, sat out because of a left ankle injury.
The Wizards pulled to within three with 5:19 left after Okafor put back Shelvin Mack’s missed free throw. But Belinelli answered with a three-pointer, and Boozer hit a jumper for an 84-77 lead.
Both teams struggled from the field as Chicago shot 39 percent, and the Wizards connected on 37 percent. Washington scored 51 points in the final three quarters after putting up 26 points in the first period.
The Bulls hadn’t played since Tuesday because their Wednesday night game against the Pacers was postponed due to snow in Indianapolis.
Chicago led 45-39 at halftime after shooting 39 percent. Deng led the Bulls with nine points. Seraphin had 10 points for the Wizards.
The Bulls opened the third quarter on an 11-4 run to take a 56-43 lead. The Wizards responded with a 15-4 spurt to pull within two with 3:35 left in the period. Chicago quickly pushed its advantage back to nine after a tip-in by Joakim Noah, a 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich, and Belinelli’s dunk.
Washington got back within three points early in the final quarter, but Chicago again had an answer. Nate Robinson made a layup, and Belinelli sank another 3-pointer to push the Bulls back in front by eight.
The Wizards got off to a strong start, leading by as many as eight in the first quarter and taking a 26-22 lead at the end of the period.
Washington went cold in the second quarter, shooting 4 of 21. Chicago started the period on an 8-2 run to retake the lead.
Garrett Temple started at guard for the Wizards in place of Mack. Temple, signed by Washington on Tuesday, had 13 points, six assists and six rebounds Friday in a win over Orlando that snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Belinelli had started at shooting guard while Hamilton was sidelined. Belinelli had averaged 15.3 points per game in 12 starts compared to just 5 points in 14 games as a reserve.
Hamilton had nine points in 15 minutes Saturday.
Belinelli replaced Hamilton with 4:38 left in the first quarter after Hamilton got off to a 2-for-5 start. Belinelli scored six points in the first half.
NOTES: Washington is 1-13 on the road this season. ... The Wizards have lost 12 times in their past 15 trips to Chicago but they beat the Bulls 87-84 last April in their previous trip.