CHICAGO, March 16- The Chicago Bulls notched their seventh straight NBA victory on Tuesday to take the outright lead in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Boston Celtics.
Derrick Rose scored 23 points for the Bulls, who had 20 points from Luol Deng and 17 from Keith Bogans in a 98-79 victory over the Washington Wizards.
All 10 of Bogans’ attempted shots were from three-point range, and he made five of them.
With the victory, the Bulls edged one half-game ahead of Boston atop the NBA East.
The Bulls haven’t held the conference’s top spot this late in the season since 1997-98, the season the Bulls won a sixth NBA title.
Washington center JaVale McGee had a rare triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks. That’s the most blocks by NBA player since Toronto’s Keon Clark had 12 on March 23, 2001.
McGee was shy of the club record for blocks in a game, which was the 15 set by Manute Bol for the then-Washington Bullets on February 26, 1987.
Against a Wizards team that has struggled to just one win on the road this season, the Bulls jumped to a 31-19 lead.
Chicago out-rebounded the Wizards 17-5 in the opening quarter despite the absence of center Joakim Noah and power forward Carlos Boozer.
Noah missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Noah was sent home from the team’s shoot-around on Tuesday morning because he wasn’t feeling well, but the illness wasn’t thought to be serious.
The Bulls played their third straight game without Boozer, who sprained his left ankle in a win over Charlotte on March 9.
The Wizards had just nine players in uniform, six of them rookies. At least that had first-year star John Wall, whose availablity was in question thanks to a sore foot.
He was stepped on in Washington’s defeat by Oklahoma City on Monday.
Since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule in 1967-68, only one team has gone 1-40 on the road — the Sacramento Kings in 1990-91.