<
>

It's Wall, Wizards vs Rose, Bulls

Geoff Burke/USA Today

John Wall has nine 20-point, 10-assist games, two more than any other player player in the NBA.Whenever the Washington Wizards play the Chicago Bulls, a noteworthy matchup involves John Wall against Derrick Rose. The teams play Wednesday in Chicago (8 PM, ESPN), five days after the Wizards beat the Bulls 102-86 in Washington.

That was Wall’s first win in six head-to-head meetings against Rose. Wall scored 16 points and dished out 12 assists. Rose totaled 19 points but had more turnovers (four) than assists (two).

Wall’s improvement

Head-to-head this season

Wall leads the NBA in assists per game with a career-high 10.2. He is the league leader in total steals and has 21 double-doubles, two shy of NBA leader Nikola Vucevic. Wall’s nine 20-point, 10-assist games lead the league; next closest is Stephen Curry (seven).

Wall is shooting a career-high 45.9 percent from the field, partly because he has improved on shots from 10 to 18 feet. He is making a career-best 42.9 percent of his shots from that range this season. Wall's career average is 36.2 percent.

Wednesday’s game is a rematch of a first-round playoff series from last season, which the Wizards won in five games.

Rose’s shooting suffers

Rose has played in 23 of the Bulls' last 26 games after missing eight of the team’s first 13 games with injuries. The Bulls are 19-9 with Rose this season and 7-4 without him.

Rose is shooting 40 percent from the field – and a lot of that has to do with him settling on outside shots. Only 44 percent of Rose’s shots have come in the paint this season. That number was 49 percent for his career entering this season.

Derrick Rose this season

When Rose has not been efficient shooting from outside the paint. He shoots 29 percent outside the paint compared with 54 percent in the paint.

A career-high 32 percent of Rose’s shots this season have come from 3-point range. He is shooting 25 percent on 3-pointers, Rose's lowest percentage since his rookie season.

In his last two games, though, Rose is averaging 18.5 points on 47 percent shooting (16-of-34). Other than 3-pointers, Rose was 14-of-22 (64 percent) in those games.

Gasol keeping up his pace

Pau Gasol, in his first season with the Bulls, isn’t showing signs of slowing down at the age of 34. He is averaging 37.0 points and 16.0 rebounds in his last two games.

In Saturday’s win over the Bucks, Gasol scored a career-high 46 points to go with 18 rebounds. He became the first Bulls player to record at least 46 points and 18 rebounds since Michael Jordan had 69 points and 18 rebounds in a 117-113 overtime victory at Cleveland on March 28, 1990. That was the most points Jordan scored in any game of his NBA career – regular season or postseason.

Gasol’s average of 19.0 points is his most in a season since 2006-07. He’s on pace to set career marks in rebounds (11.4) and blocks (2.2) per game, and he ranks sixth and fourth in the league in those categories. His 21 double-doubles are tied for the second-most in the NBA this season.

Butler’s emergence

Jimmy Butler – NBA career

Jimmy Butler ranks 15th in the league in scoring. He has increased his average by 7.8 points compared with last season.

Scoring isn’t the only category he’s improved in. Butler is averaging 6.2 rebounds this season compared with 4.9 last season, and his PER is 21.3 this season compared with 13.6 last season.

Analytics notes

Each team ranks in the top 10 of the league in defensive efficiency, but the defenses excel in different ways. The Wizards create a higher than average number of turnovers and rebound on defense better than average. The Bulls force opponents into inefficient, mid-range shots at a high rate and give opponents fewer than average free throws.

The Bulls’ offense is fueled by free throws. When their free throw attempt rate is greater than 20 percent, they win 75 percent of the time – and 53 percent of the time when they are below that.

With the Wizards playing on the road in the second of a back-to-back, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Bulls a 72 percent chance to win.

Quick hitters

• After ranking 30th in scoring average and tying for 27th in offensive efficiency last season, the Bulls are 12th in scoring and 9th in offensive efficiency this season.

• The Bulls have a better road record (14-5) than home record (12-8).

• After Wednesday’s game, the teams meet one more time this season, March 3 in Chicago.