Bulls use a lineup of mostly reserves and backups to beat the Wizards

Thanks to rookie Adama Sanogo scoring 22 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, the Bulls outlasted the Wizards 129-127.

Jess Rapfogel/Getty

Not bad for a few varsity guys and a whole lot of JV players.

With nothing on the line as far as the standings or the play-in game, Bulls coach Billy Donovan used the 129-127 victory Friday against the Wizards to see what he had in rookie Adama Sanogo and to find out if veteran Jevon Carter should have the opportunity to get back into the rotation for a game that matters.

In scoring 22 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, Sanogo became the first Bulls rookie since Charles Oakley in the 1985-86 season to register a 20-20 game, while Carter had his best performance as a Bull by scoring 20 points off the bench and hitting 4 of 8 from three-point range while also tying a career-high with 12 assists.

Solid showings on a night in which veterans DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso each were allowed to get some rest before a final push.

Dalen Terry scored 17 and had eight assists to go along with a ridiculous one-handed flush that brought the bench to its feet, and Javonte Green had 24 as the starting center.

The only usual starter in the lineup was Coby White.

But as feel-good as the win was, it doesn’t take away from the bigger picture hanging over this team that unless they can get hot in the play-in games and reach the playoffs, this season has to be written off as another of underachievement.

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That’s why Donovan recently insisted that any assessment of the season starts with him.

“Yeah, I always feel like at the end of every single season that I could be better and done better and could have done more,” Donovan said. “I don’t think that’s any different for me. The way I would look at it is nobody is happy about being where we’re at. Then the next thing is, ‘OK, what can I do differently? What do I need to do differently? Is there anything I can help the players with more?’ That would be the first place I would go to personally.”

If the Bulls (39-42) don’t get on a hot streak in the next few games, he’ll have plenty of time for that. That’s why Friday was important, with Donovan using it as one last breather before things really start to matter.

Not that the win came easy.

With the game tied and just under three minutes left, a Sanogo free throw and then a Terry layup put the Bulls up three.

A Deni Avdija layup was answered by a Torrey Craig three-pointer, keeping the lead to four. Both teams traded baskets and free throws before Corey Kispert hit a three-pointer with 23 seconds left to pull the Wizards to within one.

Sanogo was fouled with 16.2 seconds left and split the pair of free throws. Following suit, the Wizards’ Patrick Baldwin Jr. split his free throws to keep it a one-point game. Then it was Sanogo’s turn again, missing the first free throw with 4.1 seconds left and making the second. That left Washington one more opportunity to make the Bulls pay, as Kispert went for the tie but missed the layup and the chance to be the hero.

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“Regardless of the circumstances of who is in, who is out, who is able to play, who has not played, I’ve always taken the approach of there’s enough in the locker room,” Donovan said. “You give me five guys on the court that are connected and play together, compete . . . there’s enough guys there to me. I think we’ve been more consistent as the year has gone on than we were earlier, no question. But is it consistent enough? No, we can be better there.”

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