CHICAGO — Without their starting backcourt and one of their best reserves, the Chicago Bulls were going to need a team effort Tuesday night. That's what they got.
Nikola Mirotic scored 23 points to lead the Bulls to a 97-92 win over the Washington Wizards. It came without former MVP Derrick Rose (right knee), all-star Jimmy Butler (left elbow), and trusted reserve Taj Gibson (left ankle), but the Bulls still managed to improve to 4-2 on their season-high seven-game homestand.
Aaron Brooks had 22 points while Pau Gasol had 20 and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who had five players in double figures. Joakim Noah added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"It's going to be the collective effort. You don't replace a Derrick or a Jimmy or Taj individually. We have to do it as a team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They're going to keep coming, they're all tough. We're going to need a lot of resiliency and a lot of fight."
The sliding Wizards will need that as well, but for different reasons.
They were coming off a 99-95 win Saturday against Detroit that snapped a six-game losing streak but still lost for the seventh time in eight.
Washington was led by John Wall's 21 points and 11 assists. His 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer cut Washington's deficit to seven at 74-67, and an Otto Porter floater with 1:49 left in the game cut the Chicago lead to three. Bradley Beal then had a chance to tie the game with an open 3-pointer, but his shot rimmed out with 55.9 remaining.
Mirotic then hit one of two free throws before Porter split a pair from the line, cutting the Chicago lead to three with 29 seconds left. Gasol rebounded a missed Tony Snell jumper and was fouled, hitting two shots to give Chicago the final score with 8.5 seconds left. It was Washington's eighth consecutive road loss.
"The game was lost in a variety of ways," said Beal, who had 13 on 6 of 18 shooting in playing his second straight after missing three weeks due to a right leg injury. "Just bad possessions and I feel like I had a lot of open shots that I should have made, which could have put us in a better position to win the game."
Paul Pierce had 16 and Marcin Gortat added 12 and 12 rebounds. It didn't help the Wizards win their sixth straight game in Chicago, including the postseason.
They also couldn't take advantage of a beaten-up Bulls team that forced Thibodeau to improvise.
Chicago's starting lineup of Brooks, Snell, Mike Dunleavy, Gasol and Noah was the 20th it has used this season. That's the most since 2007-08, when the Bulls also used 20.
"We're a resilient team," Gasol said. "We compete and we try to do our best on the floor. It just shows character."
A budding rivalry also was shown Tuesday.
Nene, who on Monday said he hates the Bulls, was held to no points and six rebounds and fouled out with 5:28 left, much to the delight of Chicago fans. That animosity had only intensified with 8:13 left in the fourth when he was called for a flagrant foul on Noah as the Bulls center was driving to the basket. Pierce was also called for a technical during the sequence.
"I'm sure (Nene's) foul trouble took away some of his effectiveness. That's not an excuse. We have to get away from excuses," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
The Wizards only got to the free-throw line 19 times, and that wasn't enough for Wittman. ". "We hold it and allow the defense to set before we take a dribble and attack. That's been a problem for us getting to the free-throw line," Wittman said. Beal took 18 shots from the field but only went to the line once.
Wizards: Forward Kris Humphries missed his third consecutive game with a strained left groin. Humphries, who was listed as questionable, is averaging 8.1 points in 56 games. ... Beal played 35 minutes. He played 33 minutes Saturday in his first game back since Feb. 5.
BULLS: Kirk Hinrich appeared in his 696th game with the Bulls, tying Jerry Sloan for third in franchise history. ... Butler told reporters at Tuesday's shootaround that he and Rose both want to be back before the end of the regular season. "I think we're both going to be back ASAP, as soon as possible, but I think we both have to be smart about it," Butler said. ... Thibodeau, asked about the Wizards' Nene saying he hates the Bulls, said he had no reaction. "It's all chatter."
WIZARDS: At home against Miami on Friday
BULLS: At home against Oklahoma City on Thursday.