'Weird game,' frustrating feeling

Chicago BullsSportsBasketballKirk HinrichVerizon CommunicationsWashington WizardsCaron Butler

Kirk Hinrich needed only seven words to summarize 48 minutes of highs, lows and, ultimately, more Bulls frustration Wednesday night.

"It was kind of a weird game," Hinrich said.

It ended with the Washington Wizards leaving Verizon Center with a 113-103 victory, its 18th straight game scoring more than 100 points, and several Bulls shaking their heads over 20 turnovers and officials' calls.

The Bulls, who suddenly have lost four of five, did plenty right.

Hinrich and strong help hounded Gilbert Arenas into 5-of-16 shooting, making him earn his 20 points. They held Washington's so-called "Big Three" of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler 6.9 points under its average of 70.9. And they played with energy, opening with an 11-2 run.

But Washington broke open a two-point game with a 12-0, fourth-quarter run. That started with Antonio Daniels tossing in a crazy three-pointer to beat the shot clock and peaked when Butler had a three-point possession after Ben Wallace was whistled for a technical foul.

With 4:49 remaining and Washington up 11, Daniels appeared to make contact with Hinrich as he dribbled downcourt. Daniels then fell after running into Wallace's back as all three players sprinted downcourt.

Official Violet Palmer called Wallace for an offensive foul.

"She said she thought I was trying to set a pick," said Wallace, who had 16 rebounds. "I didn't think it was a foul."

Hinrich said: "I thought I was bumped. But I also saw the play right in front of me. Ben was just running down the floor."

Coach Scott Skiles said he didn't get a good look at the play.

Skiles received his own technical with 2.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter arguing a play he did see.

After Hinrich drained a three-pointer, Skiles told him to foul Arenas because the Bulls had a foul to give.

Arenas heard this and made a shooting motion as Hinrich fouled him roughly 80 feet from the basket. Palmer awarded Arenas three free throws.

"In the 20 years I've been in the league, I've seen that shooting motion hundreds of times from guys trying to get that call," Skiles said.

"I've never seen it awarded before. I didn't get an explanation."

Arenas made all four free throws as Washington, which also had an 18-2, first-quarter run, grabbed a nine-point lead.

"As soon as I saw [Hinrich] reaching for it, I just chucked the ball up," Arenas said.

Hinrich added: "I guess it was a smart play. But I fouled him before he went to shoot."

Making the play even more aggravating for the Bulls is that Hinrich defended Arenas well. Having scored 30 or more points in 14 of his last 17 games, Arenas is 8 of 27 in two games against the Bulls.

"They just have great team defense," Arenas said. "Kirk pushes up on me, lets me drive and then they're such a great help-defensive team."

But the Bulls didn't have answers for Butler, who scored 26, or for Daniels, who provided 15 points in an active reserve role.

"They have several guys who can flat jump over us and shoot," Skiles said.

Hinrich snapped out of his slump to score a season-high 33 points. Ben Gordon, making 5 of 6 three-pointers, added 25.

"I tried to play like I was on the playground in a pickup game," Hinrich said. "As of late, I've been taking what has been given me rather than attacking."

Hinrich drained back-to-back three-pointers as part of the Bulls' 20-6 third-quarter run to tie the game after Washington opened the second half with a 13-2 burst. This took place despite Arenas not taking a shot all quarter.

In the end, Washington scored 32 points off Bulls turnovers. Andres Nocioni put an exclamation point on the Bulls' frustrations with a flagrant foul on Daniels with 92 seconds left.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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