WASHINGTON – The Chicago Bulls maintained their push toward top spot in the Eastern Conference with a crushing 105-77 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday.
Chicago, who have defied expectations for the season, pulled to within a game of the Miami Heat and are just two behind conference-leading Boston, who defeated Utah on Monday.
Derrick Rose paced the Bulls with 21 points and nine assists, including a spectacular between-the-legs pass to team mate Joakim Noah in the first quarter that brought the crowd to its feet.
"It's just a play that I made, but I didn't have it pre-planned or anything, I just did it," Rose told reporters. "When I do stuff (like that), I don't think about it."
Center Noah recorded 19 points and 11 rebounds in his fourth game back from a thumb injury that sidelined him for more than two months, while Luol Deng had 21 points.
Chicago opened up a 13-point lead at halftime then stormed ahead by 21 at the end of the third quarter to hand the struggling Wizards (15-44) their 15th loss in 17 games.
Andray Blatche led Washington with 15 points and 11 rebounds but No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall made just three of 14 shots and finished with nine points and 10 assists.
Earlier in the day, the Wizards announced that they had waived guard Mike Bibby after coming to a mutual agreement on a contract buyout.
Washington acquired Bibby last week in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, but by letting him walk the team will save salary cap space and allow the 32-year-old guard to join another team.
The Bulls (41-17) have maintained their excellent form without any key additions during the season, winning seven of their last eight games.
Chicago have won the first two games of a five-game road trip that also takes them to Atlanta, Orlando and Miami.
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