WASHINGTON – If the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards meet in the first round of the playoffs, the Bulls will have a nice little blueprint to follow.
The Bulls dominated from the get-go Saturday night and never trailed in a 96-78 win over the Wizards, avenging two losses from earlier in the season and providing perhaps a psychological edge if these teams are cranking up for a seven-game series in a couple of weeks.
It was definitely a statement game, Washington forward Drew Gooden said. We were going in the mindset of this being a statement game, getting a possible matchup in the first round, and they took it the same way. They wanted to make a statement early.
D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 25 points, making 6 of 11 3-pointers but only 2 of 8 2-pointers. Joakim Noah had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Carlos Boozer added 16 points for the Bulls, who have won five straight and are tied with the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
John Wall scored 20 points, and Marcin Gortat had 19 for the Wizards, who sit in sixth place in the East.
BOBCATS 96, CAVALIERS 94, OT: In Cleveland, Al Jefferson scored 24 points, including seven in overtime, and Charlotte clinched its second playoff spot in its 10-year history.
Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 44 points for Cleveland.
PISTONS 115, CELTICS 111: In Auburn Hills, Mich., Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to score 26 points and help Detroit rally from 19 points down in the third quarter and end a two-game skid.
MAGIC 100, TIMBERWOLVES 92: In Orlando, Fla., Arron Afflalo scored 18 points and Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless added 17 apiece to lead Orlando.
Rookie Victor Oladipo contributed 16 points and six assists to help Orlando snap a three-game losing streak. Kyle O’Quinn had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
NETS 105, 76ERS 101: In Philadelphia, Kevin Garnett scored 10 points in his first game in more than five weeks for Brooklyn.
RAPTORS 102, BUCKS 98: In Milwaukee, DeMar DeRozan scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Toronto kept pace in the hunt for playoff position.