Ariza scored a career playoff-high 30 points with six 3-pointers
and guard Bradley Beal had 18 points as the Washington Wizards
defeated the Chicago Bulls 98-89 on Sunday afternoon to take a 3-1
Center Marcin Gortat added 17 points and guard John Wall had 15
points for the Wizards, who scored the game's first 14 points, led
55-40 at halftime and by 23 in the fourth quarter. Washington played
without Nene after the NBA suspended the power forward for one game
following a tussle with Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler during the
fourth quarter of Game 3.
"I think we're a smart enough group to understand that when one of
your pieces go down you have to find ways and will ways to win,"
said Ariza, who had eight rebounds and made 10 of 17 shots from the
field including 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. "Tonight was my night
to take on the scoring load."
Beal's 3-pointer opening the fourth quarter gave Washington the
largest lead for either team in the series at 85-62.
Taj Gibson set a career-playoff high with 32 points for the Bulls.
The reserve forward made his first nine attempts from the field and
finished 13 of 16 while his teammates went 22 of 62. Butler had 16
points and center Joakim Noah had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Wall also had 10 assists and spearheaded Washington's up-tempo
designs in front of the raucous and towel waving sellout crowd of
20,356. The Wizards finished with a 16-2 advantage in fast-break
points and had 22 assists with only six turnovers.
Chicago committed 16 turnovers, leading to 29 points for Washington.
The Bulls pulled closer at 91-83 on Gibson's jumper with 2:03
remaining, but the Wizards countered with consecutive dunks by
Gortat and Ariza.
"The games are 15-round slugfests, but for it to go that far you
really have to have a good start," Gibson said. "They got the crowd
into it really early and we were on our heels from the jump."
Chicago won the two previous matchups in Washington, including Game
3's 100-97 victory on Friday.
Seated prominently next to the Wizards' bench was 57-year-old team
owner Ted Leonsis, who donned a Nene 42-jersey throughout and
high-fived fans in the final seconds.
"I thought it was pretty hilarious that Ted had Nene's jersey on,"
Wizards coach Randy Wittman played coy about his boss' attire.
"I didn't (notice). Was he there tonight?" he said.
Nene not being in the building offered the Bulls hope. Chicago
routed the Nene-less Wizards in Washington on April 5. This time
they "didn't take advantage," of his absence, Gibson said.
Forward Trevor Booker replaced Nene in the starting lineup. He had
eight points, a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks before
[to top of second column]
Nene averaged 20.5 points in the first two games of the series, both
won by Washington in Chicago.
The Wizards also went 12-9 when Nene missed games with a knee injury
after the All-Star break. That experience turned out to be a
"blessing in disguise," Wittman said. The team learned of the
suspension on Saturday.
"I saw our guys bond together like, 'That's ok, big fella's not
going to be here, but that's OK,'" Wittman said.
Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy, who scored 35 points in Game 3, went
scoreless in the first half and finished with six points. He
suffered a jammed left thumb in the second half.
Foul trouble hampered any comeback hopes for the Bulls in the third
quarter. Forward Carlos Boozer picked up five in the period,
including a flagrant. The Wizards made 20 of 25 free throws.
Washington opened with a football-like score lead and pushed the
margin to 15 on Ariza's third 3-pointer in the opening six minutes.
He closed the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent
the Wizards into halftime leading 55-40 and then opened the third
with another shot from beyond the arc.
Gibson made all eight of his field-goal attempts before halftime.
The rest of the Bulls went 7 of 32.
The series returns to Chicago for Game 5 on Tuesday.
"To win a playoff series, it takes four (wins)," Bulls coach Tom
Thibodeau said. "We're going to concentrate on getting two and going
NOTES: F Trevor Ariza's six 3-pointers matched a franchise record
held by Gilbert Arenas. ... F Trevor Booker and F Taj Gibson
received simultaneous technical fouls in the second quarter with
Booker on the bench. Players on both teams have combined for 10
technical fouls in the series. ... The home playoff victory was the
Wizards' first since April 24, 2008, against LeBron James and the
Cleveland Cavaliers. ... Members of both teams were asked for
comment pregame about the racist comments allegedly made by Los
Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. "Whether it's NBA basketball
or any walks of society, there is no place for that," Wizards coach
Randy Wittman said.
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