WASHINGTON — Everyone knows about Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, the Washington trio that combined for 77 points Sunday against Chicago.
What the Wizards would love to have as the postseason approaches is consistent contributions from a fourth source, and Antonio Daniels is stepping into that role.
Daniels, a reserve guard, scored a season-high 21 points on his 31st birthday, and Washington ran out to big lead en route to a 113-104 victory over Chicago in a rematch of a 2005 first-round playoff series.
"It is the time of year for our veterans and guys who have been to the playoffs to step up for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "Antonio has done that."
Daniels is averaging 15.5 points the last six games, when Washington has gone 4-2 and moved past Indiana for fifth in the Eastern Conference. A lack of playoff experience was considered a factor in the Wizards' second-round sweep against the Miami Heat last season, and Daniels has played in 59 postseason games, winning an NBA title with San Antonio in 1999.
He signed a $30 million, five-year deal to leave Seattle and join Washington as a free agent in the offseason.
"It takes a while to find your niche. You're pressing. You're trying to live up to this, trying to live up to that," Daniels said. "And when you just kind of calm down and be yourself — it took me a while just to be myself (with a) new coaching staff, new teammates, new organization, new system — once you find a way to blend in without trying to do too much, everything falls into place."
Arenas led the way with 29 points and seven assists, Butler scored 25, and Jamison had 23, giving the Wizards four 20-point scorers in a game for the first time since Nov. 25 at Detroit.
Washington led 60-40 at halftime, was up 27 in the third quarter, and withstood a late comeback bid by the Bulls, led by 20 points from Ben Gordon and 18 apiece from Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni.
"We waited 2½ quarters before we got any energy going," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Once we did, we were able to chip away at it and give ourselves half a chance."
Washington surpassed its average output of 101.4 points, best in the East, and reached 110 for the seventh time in nine games. The latest effort came against a Chicago team that leads the NBA in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 42.7. The Wizards finished at 47 percent Sunday and won for the first time in three tries this season against the team they eliminated last year.
The Bulls found themselves in plenty of foul trouble, with Tyson Chandler (three points, zero field-goal attempts) and Kirk Hinrich fouling out, and Gordon and Nocioni finishing with five apiece.
"We are going out there sometimes and getting fouls because we are a step behind on some plays," Gordon said.
Chandler went to the sideline after picking up his fifth foul with a little under 2 minutes left in the third quarter. He argued the call from his seat and was whistled for a technical foul. Then the fourth-year center got into a brief exchange with Skiles, who got up and stood over Chandler, yelling, "I'll say whatever I want to say," with a few obscenities sprinkled in.
"I can't allow us to be blaming other factors for the way that we play. There's a very simple thing to do under those situations, and that's play better," Skiles said. "We've done that a little bit too much this year: blame the refs, blame other situations, and that's not a belief system that I can endorse — ever."
The Bulls missed 10 of their first 14 shots.