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Bulls go on defensive against Washington 

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

WASHINGTON — As pretty as the Bulls’ 45-point win the previous night in Chicago was, their performance against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night was equally ugly.

But all the Bulls care about was the final result, an 87-80 victory to remain one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

‘‘We’ll take it,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘Any win’s a good win.’’

‘‘It was a strange sort of game for us. We were grinding away, grinding away, trying to be in position at the end.’’

The Bulls managed the win despite being held to 14 points in the fourth quarter and committing 21 turnovers for the game. But they were solid on the defensive end down the stretch, holding the Wizards to 10 points in the final quarter on 4-for-15 shooting.

‘‘We really just stepped up our intensity,’’ point guard Derrick Rose said. ‘‘We gave up a couple of layups, but everything else was contested.”

With the Bulls still down two big men — Taj Gibson played only 31 seconds — Carlos Boozer led the way with a game-high 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Rose, locked in a battle with former mentor Kirk Hinrich, had 25 points, five assists and three blocked shots.

Nick Young led the Wizards (7-20) with 22 points while Hinrich had 19 points and nine assists.

The Bulls (18-9) have won nine of 10 games, and they improved to 7-6 on the road.

Boozer was one of the offensive heroes, but he attributed the win to the effort on the defensive end.

‘‘We gave up 33 [points] in the first quarter and 10 in the fourth, so as the game progressed, our defense got more like Chicago Bulls defense. They had only 80 points total after scoring 33 in the first.

‘‘It was a grind-out win, but we’ll take it and keep moving.’’

The Bulls trailed 50-46 at halftime mainly because they committed 10 turnovers before the intermission. But trailing 58-50 early in the third quarter, they turned the game around by scoring 13 straight points to take a 63-58 lead midway through the quarter.

Boozer (eight) and Rose combined for all but two of the 13 points.

The Bulls took a 73-70 lead into the fourth quarter and then scored the first five points of the period for a 78-70 lead.

But besides the Wizards, the Bulls had to fight foul trouble down the stretch. Both Boozer and Kurt Thomas had five fouls midway through the fourth, with each picking up two offensive fouls.

The offensive fouls — a couple of which were very questionable — triggered a breakdown of the offense. The Bulls managed two points over a stretch of more than nine minutes.

But Thibodeau elected to stick with his veterans despite the foul trouble, and it paid off, although Thomas did foul with two minutes left.

Defensively, the Bulls held the Wizards to three points in the final five minutes, but Thibodeau still didn’t have an answer afterward when asked how they won despite 21 turnovers.

‘‘That’s a good question,’’ he said. ‘‘We made it hard on ourselves.’’

But they prevailed in the end.

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