D.J. Augustin scored 25 points on Saturday and Joakim Noah had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls turned a possible first-round playoff preview into a rout, never trailing in a 96-78 win over the Washington Wizards.
Augustin made six of 11 three-pointers, and Carlos Boozer added 16 points for the Bulls, who have won five straight and are battling the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Augustin has averaged 19.8 points during the winning streak.
John Wall scored 20 points, and Marcin Gortat had 19 for the Wizards, who sit in sixth place in the East. If they hold that spot, they will face the third-seeded team.
The Bulls clamped down on the Wizards early, taking advantage of turnovers and a rebounding advantage to build their lead.
Trailing by 12 at the end of the period, the Wizards were then completely undone by a 10-point second quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Augustin made the score 36-18, and a free throw by Jimmy Butler in the final minute of the first half gave the Bulls a 28-point lead.
The Wizards made a run in the third quarter, scoring more points (35) in the period than they had in the entire first half (26). Wall’s 10m bounce pass to Trevor Booker on a fast break led to a dunk that pulled Washington within 11 and brought the crowd to its feet.
However, Noah took over and quickly squashed the rally. His three-point play started a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to score 26 points and help the Detroit Pistons rally for a 115-111 win over the Boston Celtics.
The Pistons trailed by as many as 19 points in third quarter and were down 95-85 at the start of the fourth before going on a 15-4 run that gave them their first lead since early in the game. The teams traded the lead several times before Stuckey made a pair of free throws with 57 seconds left to break a 111-all tie.
Jerryd Bayless tried for a go-ahead shot in the final seconds, but his three-point try rimmed out.
Jefferson scored 24 points, including seven in overtime, as the Charlotte Bobcats clinched a playoff spot with a 96-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Charlotte are in the post-season for the second time in their 10-year history and the first time since 2010.
Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 44 points for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers (31-47) trail eighth-place Atlanta by 3.5 games for the final playoff spot in the East.
Also on Saturday, the Orlando Magic had a 100-92 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Philadelphia 76ers 105-101 and DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 102-98.