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Belinelli scores 17 in Bulls' win over Wizards

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm •  Published: December 29, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — Marco Belinelli showed he can also be a force off the bench for the Chicago Bulls.

Belinelli returned to his role as a reserve and led the Bulls with 17 points in an 87-77 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls (16-12), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Luol Deng scored 11 points after injuring his right ankle Tuesday in a loss to Houston.

Bradley Beal led the NBA-worst Wizards (4-24) with 14 points.

Belinelli made 7 of 16 shots in a reserve role as Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton had missed 12 games because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

"Marco was terrific," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He has been playing well for a long time. He hit big shots and made big plays."

When Hamilton was sidelined, Belinelli averaged 15.3 points per game in 12 starts, compared to just five points in 14 games as a reserve.

Belinelli, who signed as a free agent with the Bulls in July, said his confidence has risen as he has adjusted to his team.

"The first couple weeks of the season, I was a little bit nervous, (did not have) too much confidence in myself," Belinelli said.

Kevin Seraphin had 12 points, and Emeka Okafor added 11 points and 18 rebounds for Washington, which has lost nine of 10.

The Wizards held a 56-49 rebounding edge.

"I just turned around, and the ball was in my hands," Okafor said. "It seemed like perfect timing a lot of times. It didn't start off that way. Actually, at the beginning, I couldn't grab one at all, but as the game went on, I found my flow."

Wizards leading scorer Jordan Crawford, averaging 16 points per game, sat out because of a left ankle injury.

The Wizards pulled to within three with 5:19 left after Okafor put back Shelvin Mack's missed free throw. But Belinelli answered with a 3-pointer, and Boozer hit a jumper for an 84-77 lead.

"It definitely wasn't pretty," the Bulls' Joakim Noah said. "Both teams shot pretty low percentages. We still have to play better and we still have to talk more on transition. We're a work in progress. We're happy we got back on the winning track."

Both teams struggled from the field as Chicago shot 39 percent, and the Wizards connected on 37 percent. Washington scored 51 points in the final three quarters after putting up 26 points in the first period.

"We didn't shoot the ball again very well," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "They're a good defensive team. They're going to make those things tough."

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