CHICAGO | The league used to laugh at the Washington Wizards, who've had five straight losing seasons.
Monday night, a stunned United Center sellout crowd of 21,287 looked like it had been sucker-punched as the Wizards never trailed and rolled to a 102-88 victory.
The Bulls had won five straight games, two in a row since Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland, and were flirting with the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 27.
During their streak, they had held opponents to 84.4 ppg and .389 percent shooting.
The Wizards (17-19) weren't impressed.
They led 26-19 after one quarter, 56-43 at the half and 78-68 entering the fourth.
"They got their confidence early against us and it's hard to shut down a team like that when they get going," said a subdued Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
"We didn't have an edge tonight and we have to come out with a high intensity level to have any chance of winning."
Six Wizards scored in double figures, led by John Wall and Marcin Gortat with 19 apiece.
Carlos Boozer had 19 points and Joakim Noah a game-high 16 rebounds for Chicago (17-19).
The Bulls had 18 turnovers resulting in 22 Washington points.
"You can't keep saying we'll work our way out of it. You have to do it," Thibodeau said.
"We didn't play well. I didn't coach well and that started this morning at the shoot around. I didn't do anything to make the game hard on (Washington)."
It's important for the Bulls to cash in during a current 11-game stretch that features only two teams (Atlanta, Phoenix) with winning records.
The Wizards are improved but still resemble a Division-II college team at times.
They came in with single-game team lows in total points (66), second-half points (29), bench points (5), free throws made (5) and field goal percentage (.321).
"We're resilient. We don't lack confidence," Boozer said. "Every NBA team has talent, despite its record.
"We'll bounce back. We believe in each other."