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Wizards Up 2-0 After Winning In Chicago

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[April 23, 2014]  CHICAGO  Even after Washington's two road wins in the first-round playoff series, guard John Wall continues to insist the Wizards are the underdogs against the Chicago Bulls.

He might lose credibility if he continues that claim.

The fifth-seeded Wizards rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and pulled out a 101-99 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.

The Wizards hold a 2-0 lead in the series, with the scene shifting to Washington for Game 3 on Friday night.

"I think we did a great job of staying calm and composed," Wall said. "Early in the season, we would get rattled. Guys would try to make plays one-on-one. Tonight, we trusted our offense. We made big shots and got offensive rebounds."

Guard Bradley Beal scored 26 points, including nine points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Washington trailed 87-77 with 6:59 remaining after two free throws by Chicago guard Jimmy Butler.


Beal knocked down a couple of 3-pointers after the Wizards won scrambles for offensive rebounds. He split two free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining to tie the score at 91. After the Bulls missed two shots, Beal's jumper at the end of regulation was off target.

"Defensively, we got stops," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "That is what won the game. It was our defense and rebounding that did it for us."

Wizards center Nene scored the first six points in overtime and Washington kept the lead at 101-95 with 42.6 seconds left after Wall hit two free throws.

Chicago scrambled back and had a chance to tie the score when guard Kirk Hinrich went to the foul line with 2.4 seconds left. But he missed the first attempt, clanked the second off the rim on purpose and Washington grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.

"I thought I should have made the layup, to be honest," Hinrich said of the final play. "I just wasn't able to do it. I thought I might have shot a little quick, thinking about it now in my mind. Just have to move on."

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, Chicago took its first lead of the night at 65-64 when forward Mike Dunleavy hit a jumper from the key with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Guard D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 25 points, forward Taj Gibson scored 22 and center Joakim Noah had 20. Augustin was quiet down the stretch after Washington used 6-foot-8 forward Trevor Ariza for the defensive assignment.

"It was a good strategy for them," Augustin said. "I think we went to some counters to get somebody else open. They were smart and they played good tonight."

In Game 1, Wall and Beal combined to shoot 28 percent from the field (7 of 25). In Game 2, the two guards totaled 27 points in the first half while shooting 53 percent from the floor (10 of 19).


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"Throughout the whole year, we've been growing and growing," Beal said. "Now in the playoffs, we're playing for something bigger. It was our main goal coming into the season, but we're not satisfied."

Washington dominated the first quarter, jumping to a 7-0 lead after three possessions, then opening a 29-12 advantage when Ariza drained a 3-pointer with 1:57 left in the quarter.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau went to his bench quickly and Augustin provided a needed spark. He scored eight quick points to bring the Bulls within 29-20.

Chicago made another push late in the second quarter, using a 14-2 run to close the gap to 47-46 on Gibson's driving bank and three-point play with 1:58 remaining in the first half. Wall answered with seven straight points to boost Washington's lead to 56-49 at halftime.

Things got testy late in the second quarter when Beal and Hinrich exchanged shoves after Beal was called for a foul while waiting for an inbounds pass. Both players were given technical fouls.

In the third quarter, Noah and Ariza earned double technicals for getting in each other's face after battling for a rebound.

"Throughout the year, it hasn't been pretty," Noah said of the Bulls. "But we're a team that found a way. The last two games we fell short. So we're disappointed, but we're not going to stop fighting."


NOTES: Before the game, Chicago C Joakim Noah was presented the NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy by Dikembe Mutombo, who won the award four times. ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau finished third in coach of the year voting, which was announced Tuesday, behind San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Phoenix's Jeff Hornacek. "It's great. They had a terrific season. He's one of the all-time greats," Thibodeau said of Popovich. ... Washington coach Randy Wittman on how the Wizards produced a winning road record this season: "I just think it's a mental thing. Once the season started and we started winning on the road, it's a belief that you can go in any arena and have an opportunity to win." ... Washington collected its first win in Game 1 of a playoff series on Sunday since April 18, 1996, when it beat the Philadelphia 76ers 95-94.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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