CHICAGO — John Lucas III wrapped himself in towels and sat down at his locker with a bucket of ice near his feet. After his first NBA start, the Chicago backup guard was weary and had earned a rest.
Replacing injured MVP Derrick Rose, Lucas kept shooting Wednesday night. He put up 28 shots from the field during a 45-minute, 38-second outing and scored a career-high 25 points to lead Chicago to a 78-64 over the Washington Wizards.
"Coach (Tom) Thibodeau was telling me to stay aggressive, don't back off and don't stop shooting," Lucas said after the Bulls' third victory in three nights.
"He kept telling me if, 'I'm open, shoot it. If I'm open, shoot it.' I felt like I was shooting too much and then he got on me for not shooting the times I was open."
Lucas, starting for the first time in his 70-game NBA career, was at the point in place of MVP Rose, who was out with a sprained big left toe.
Lucas also had career bests with eight assists and eight rebounds, while making 11 of his 28 attempts.
"Before the game, we all thought he'd get 20 (points)," Chicago's Kyle Korver said. "We didn't know he'd shoot 28. ... We all have confidence in John. We watch him every day in practice."
Korver added 14 points, seven in the final quarter, and Luol Deng had 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Jordan Crawford paced Washington, 1-9 and coming off its first win a night earlier against Toronto, with 14 points. JaVale McGree had 14 rebounds and 10 points for the Wizards, who shot just 31 percent.
The Bulls are hoping to have Rose back Friday night in Boston, but Lucas stepped in and was more than effective in his absence.
"It's very unusual when the backup point guard gets 28 shots," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. "He made some tough shots."
Washington's John Wall said Lucas' effort wasn't surprising considering how long he was on the floor.
"He played every minute just about, so he ran the show out there. He got good shots," Wall said. "Couple times the first half he got me on a couple of pump fakes and he made shots. You get that many shots you should be able to score that many points. He did a great job of running the team."
The Bulls had a 45-37 lead at the half.
But Wall hit a jumper and had a driving basket and Chris Singleton's jumper capped a 14-4 run to start the third quarter and Washington took a two-point lead. But Lucas connected again from the outside and Taj Gibson had a stuff follow as the Bulls regained a four-point lead headed into the final quarter.
Korver scored five straight points for the Bulls to build the lead to nine and Chicago held on for its 10th win in 12 games.
The Bulls beat Detroit on Monday night and Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Rose hurt his toe in the first quarter in Minneapolis, but stayed in the game and finished with a season-high 31 points.
"I have a lot of respect for D-Rose and all the players who play 45, 48 minutes. You have to go grind it out," said Lucas, who had some cramping problems in the second half.
"Anything for this team. ... I'll throw my body on the line any time for them."
Notes: Bulls C Joakim Noah was bothered by a sore left thumb and had it examined at the half, got it taped up and tried to play with it in the second. He played just under 19 minutes total and had four points and four rebounds. He played just seven minutes in the third quarter and none in the fourth. Backup C Omer Asik had 14 rebounds ... Lucas had attempted 39 shots total in the previous seven games he played this season. .... Washington's Andray Blatche didn't play because of a sore right shoulder. ... Injured Chicago guards Richard Hamilton (groin) and C.J. Watson (elbow) also did not play. The Bulls signed veteran guard Mike James for depth. He played the final 40 seconds.