The Washington guard scored 24 points, leading the Wizards to a
75-69 victory over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Tuesday
and a 4-1 win in the best-of-seven, first-round Eastern Conference
Washington won a playoff series for the first time since 2005, when
it beat the Bulls, and for just the second time since 1982.
The fifth-seeded Wizards will face the winner of the Indiana
Pacers-Atlanta Hawks series, which the eighth-seeded Hawks lead 3-2.
"It means a lot because it means we get a little rest now,"
second-year Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "We have been through
so much together. We've played great basketball in this series, and
we can only continue to get better no matter who we play in the next
Coming off a one-game suspension for head-butting Bulls guard Jimmy
Butler, Wizards forward Nene delivered another strong offensive
performance, scoring 20 points. Throughout the series, he was nearly
automatic on his quick lean-back jumpers.
Beal added 17 points for the Wizards, while center Marcin Gortat
grabbed 13 rebounds.
Chicago shot just 33.3 percent from the field, while Washington hit
40.5 percent of its field-goal attempts.
"When we started this series, we knew no matter what the teams did
on offense, it was defense that was going to win," Wall said. "We
played great defense, and that is why we came out with the win."
Trailing by nine points at the start of the fourth quarter, the
Bulls closed within 65-62 on guard Kirk Hinrich's 3-pointer. Wall
answered with a 3-pointer and later added a fast-break scoop to put
Washington ahead 70-62 with 5:23 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Butler and jumper from forward Carlos Boozer brought
Chicago back within 70-67. After the teams traded points, Washington
took more than a minute off the clock when Gortat grabbed or tipped
three consecutive offensive rebounds.
The Bulls finally got the ball back, but Boozer missed a driving
After forcing a 24-second violation, Chicago got another chance
trailing by three with 22.4 seconds to go. The Bulls tried to run a
quick-hitter to Butler, who missed a layup attempt.
Chicago could have had another chance to tie when Wizards guard
Andre Miller missed two free throws with 16.2 seconds left, but Nene
tipped the offensive rebound back out, and the Wizards finished the
scoring at the foul line.
The Bulls are no strangers to injury misfortune, with former MVP
Derrick Rose missing all but 10 games this season with a knee
ailment. With 7:51 left in the fourth quarter Tuesday, forward Taj
Gibson was helped off the court after turning his left ankle while
trying to block a Wall shot attempt.
"It was just tough the whole game," Gibson said. "The way we started
the game, the way we came out the beginning of the third. After I
got hurt, watching in the back. It's just frustrating."
Earlier in the second half, Chicago center Joakim Noah limped
noticeably after appearing to get hit in the right knee by teammate
Mike Dunleavy while fighting for a defensive rebound.
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Hinrich and Butler led the Bulls with 16 points each. Gibson scored
12 and Boozer 10, with Noah pulling down a game-high 18 rebounds.
"Right now, it's tough because we just lost. It's always
frustrating," Noah said. "We gave it our all. Disappointed. You look
back and wish there were things you could have done better."
The Bulls were focused on getting off to a better start after
falling behind 14-0 in Sunday's Game 4. It went OK for a while, with
Chicago holding a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter, but
the Bulls went on a cold-shooting streak, hitting just one of their
next 15 shots to fall behind 28-16.
Chicago snapped out of its offensive funk and went on a 17-4 run,
taking a 37-36 lead on a Noah jumper.
The score was tied 41-41 at halftime, which was a noticeable
improvement by the Bulls' defense. In the first four games of the
series, Washington averaged 52.5 points in the first half.
The Wizards controlled the third quarter, limiting Chicago to 11
points on 4-of-16 shooting (25 percent). Washington scored seven
straight points in the middle of the quarter, opening a 56-48
advantage with 5:13 left on Nene's jumper.
By the end of the third quarter, the Wizards led 61-52 and Chicago
was shooting just 32.2 percent as a team.
"In this game, we had to grind it out," said Washington's Randy
Wittman, who earned his first playoff series victory as a head
coach. "I am proud of those guys. For a lot of them, this is the
first time dealing with this. Not only being in the playoffs, but
closing out the series. They realize how hard it is. They never lost
their focus of being satisfied with a couple wins."
NOTES: Both coaches in the series have ties to Los Angeles Clippers
coach Doc Rivers. Chicago's Tom Thibodeau was on Rivers' staff in
Boston from 2008-10, while Washington's Randy Wittman played with
Rivers on the Atlanta Hawks from 1983-88. "I'm trying to be there
for him," Wittman said before Tuesday's game. "I think he's handled
it as well as he can handle it. I just wanted to be there to support
him and try to help him get his mind back to where it should be, and
that's playing basketball." ... The Bulls trailed 3-1 in a playoff
series 10 times, and they lost each time. ... Washington took a 3-1
lead in the playoffs for the sixth time, and they won each of the
series. However, Tuesday was the first time they closed out one of
those series in Game 5. ... Wizards F Trevor Ariza shot 46.5 percent
(13-for-28) from 3-point range in the series. He was 0-for-1 beyond
the arc in Game 5.
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