Five games remain before the Bulls start the playoffs. They can only hope that wins will come as easily then as they did on Saturday night.

By the end of the first half, the game was essentially over. The Bulls had twice as many points as the Washington Wizards, and not even a poor third quarter could derail them.

The Bulls ended up with a 96-78 win over the Wizards before 19,661 at Verizon Center could have been a playoff preview, but coach Tom Thibodeau, as usual, wanted to focus on this game, and this one alone.

D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including six three-pointers. Joakim Noah had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer added 16.

“The stats tell you how important is to get off to a good start, but I think playing from a lead is important. It’s about making winning plays throughout the game,” Thibodeau said.

The Bulls (45-32) never trailed, and an 8-0 run gave them a 19-8 lead with 4:03 to play in the first quarter. They led 28-16 after one with Boozer scoring 10.

The second quarter was even better defensively. The Bulls held the Wizards (40-37) to 10 points. Washington missed 15 of their 22 field goals and the Bulls led 52-26 at halftime.

“We wanted to throw the first punch tonight, and I think we did a good job with that tonight. In the beginning of the game, we were the more aggressive team. Usually, the most aggressive team wins,” Noah said.