"Everybody probably thought they were tanking and they were going to try to redo their team," Wall said. "They're still one of the best defensive teams in the league."
Carlos Boozer scored 19 for Chicago and Joakim Noah grabbed 16 rebounds. But with a chance to reach .500 for the first time since November, the Bulls committed 18 turnovers. They also lost for the first time since trading Luol Deng to Cleveland last week, after winning three without him.
"Games like this humble you," Taj Gibson said. "Right when you're feeling too good about yourself, you're feeling invincible, a team comes in there and smacks you, wakes you up to reality."
Washington had no trouble getting inside in the early going and shot 59 percent while building a 56-43 halftime lead.
The Bulls jumped right back into it to start the third quarter, tightening their defense while scoring the first eight points.
Boozer capped it with a finger roll after Beal missed an easy layup, making it a five-point game.
The Bulls were within four when Trevor Booker scored and Ariza and Martell Webster hit consecutive 3-pointers to push Washington's lead back to double digits at 73-61 with 2:49 left in the third.
For Chicago, it was a letdown after a promising stretch. Coach Tom Thibodeau didn't "think we had an edge tonight."
That was clear right from the start, with the Wizards opening the game on an 8-0 run that Gortat punctuated with a hard, running dunk on Boozer. They were up 36-21 early in the second after back-to-back jumpers by Beal, and they answered every time the Bulls threatened in the second half.
"We kept saying we'll work our way out of it," Thibodeau said. "Well, you can't keep saying, you've got to do it. I've got to make sure that we're ready."