Nene backed into Joakim Noah, watched as Noah dropped on his backside, then spun toward the basket for a powerful dunk and glared while towering over the Chicago Bulls center. The Brazilian big man then came down to the other end of the court and slapped a layup attempt by D.J. Augustin out of bounds. After Bradley Beal stole a pass from Noah, Martell Webster drove and dished to Nene, who threw down another vicious dunk.

The Washington Wizards didn’t need that 40-second sequence Monday night at United Center to understand the difference that Nene makes when he’s on the floor. But with the Wizards struggling to get wins, Coach Randy Wittman determined that the team could no longer keep its most talented and versatile forward coming off the bench.

With Nene able to play more minutes on his troublesome right Achilles’ tendon, Wittman put him back in the starting lineup for the first time in more than a month. Nene responded by tying John Wall with a game-high 19 points in 36 minutes to lead the Wizards to a 102-88 victory over the Bulls.

“It was time. I wanted to change things up,” Wittman said.

Washington (17-19) moved into a tie with Chicago for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with its seventh victory in its past nine road games, all of those wins coming against teams with losing records. The wire-to-wire victory also snapped a two-game skid and should serve as a confidence builder for the team as it prepares to host the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Wednesday.

“It was terrific. I think we did a great job of moving the ball, everybody finding each other, making shots, making layups and finishing at the rim,” said Bradley Beal (13 points), one of six players to score in double figures for the Wizards, who shot 52 percent. “We did a great job of sticking to our game plan and not worrying about what they were doing. Making them guard us. We think we’re a pretty good team as well.”