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With two wins in Chicago, Wizards seize control over Bulls

Apr 23, 2014, 4:59 AM EDT

Bradley Beal aggressively swung his arm, and Kirk Hinrich pushed Beal then removed his goggles as if to show he were ready for more.

Suddenly, a fairly common tangle during an inbound play turned bigger as teammates separated both players. Hinrich breathed heavily and stared daggers at Beal, who paced and smiled.

Like the second-quarter tussle, the Wizards were calm and loose and the Bulls were over-aggressive and tight in Washington’s 101-99 Game 2 overtime victory Tuesday. With a pair of stunning wins in Chicago, the fifth-seeded Wizards have taken a 2-0 series lead and complete control in the first-round matchup.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series on the road are 15-3, and half those series ended in sweeps.

  • 2011: Dallas Mavericks beat Los Angeles Lakers in conference semifinals, 4-0
  • 2010: Boston Celtics beat Orlando Magic in conference finals, 4-2
  • 2008: Utah Jazz beat Houston Rockets in first round, 4-2
  • 2005: San Antonio Spurs beat Phoenix Suns in conference finals, 4-1
  • 2005: Houston Rockets lost to Dallas Mavericks in first round, 4-3
  • 2003: New Jersey Nets beat Detroit Pistons in conference finals, 4-0
  • 2001: Los Angeles Lakers beat San Antonio Spurs in conference finals, 4-0
  • 1999: New York Knicks beat Atlanta Hawks in conference semifinals, 4-0
  • 1995: Houston Rockets beat Orlando Magic in NBA Finals, 4-0
  • 1995: Houston Rockets beat San Antonio Spurs in conference finals, 4-2
  • 1994: Phoenix Suns lost to Houston Rockets in conference semifinals, 4-3
  • 1993: Chicago Bulls beat Phoenix Suns in NBA Finals, 4-2
  • 1987: Seattle SuperSonics beat Houston Rockets in conference semifinals, 4-2
  • 1985: Philadelphia 76ers beat Milwaukee Bucks in conference semifinals, 4-0
  • 1983: Milwaukee Bucks beat Boston Celtics in conference semifinals, 4-0
  • 1977: Portland Trail Blazers beat Los Angeles Lakers in conference finals, 4-0
  • 1970: Los Angeles Lakers beat Atlanta Hawks in division finals, 4-0
  • 1969: San Francisco Warriors lost to Los Angeles Lakers in division semifinals, 4-2

Tuesday, the Wizards jumped to a 29-12 advantage and led until midway through the third quarter. But by the middle of the fourth quarter, the Bulls led by 10 – a 27-point swing.

Washington wasn’t rattled.

Beal scored nine of the Wizards’ 11 points in the final three minutes of regulation, and then Nene  – the Game 1 hero mostly held quiet – began overtime on a personal 6-0 run.

That overlapped with the Bulls missing 12 straight shots, a drought that extended back to late fourth quarter. As the Bulls scrambled the game just slipped further away. Still, with a chance to tie in the final seconds, Hinrich missed a pair of free throws.

Washington hadn’t made the playoffs in five years, and Chicago’s streak of making the postseason is even longer.

But that hardly mattered Tuesday.

Even when the Wizards seemed to run out of effective plays as they steadily blew their lead, they never let the moment overcome them. If Chicago were going to come back, it would take a prolonged, energy-draining effort.

And to the Bulls’ credit, they provided that.

D.J. Augustin (team-high 25 points and seven assists) ran pick-and-rolls over and over, and Taj Gibson (22 points and 10 rebounds) tore through Washington’s defense. Usually, getting such great contributions from reserves would boost a team to victory, but Chicago’s starters weren’t collectively up to snuff.

Joakim Noah (20 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) and Mike Dunleavy (nine points on six shots with four assists) played well, and Jimmy Butler played a lot (all 53 minutes). But Carlos Boozer (five points on six shots) struggled on both ends, Hinrich’s fervor did slightly more harm than good, and despite having many opportunities, Butler never made an imprint on the game.

At its worst, Chicago let its offense stagnate, settling for jumpers late in the shot clock. Unlike Game 1, when the Bulls scored just fine, that ultimately did them in.

The Wizards, on the other hand, found creative solutions to the trudge of playoff basketball and Chicago’s defense. With Noah and Gibson stifling the pick-and-roll better than Game 1, Washington focused more on spacing the floor. Beal finished with 26 points, and John Wall (16 points, seven assists and three steals) had his moments.

All that would have gone for naught, though, if it weren’t for a little attitude. In addition to Beal and Hinrich, Trevor Ariza and Joakim Noah received double technicals. The Wizards would just not back down against team everyone described to entering the series as – and often looked Tuesday – tougher.

“We expected it to be physical,” Beal said in his televised on-court interview. “It got out of hand a little bit, but we did a great job of staying the course.”

Beal withstood one more challenge after the game – a punishing chest slam from a pumped-up Wall. It’s just two games, but the fifth-seeded Wizards have every reason to celebrate their newfound triumph.

The Bulls, on the other hand, have seen better days and expected better even in this challenging season. As the Wizards patted each other on the back, Hinrich removed his goggles once again, dejectedly handing them to a Bulls staff member as he walked off the floor.

History says the Bulls are as likely to return to the United Center as they are to get swept in Washington.

  1. Eutaw's Finest - Apr 23, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    The Wizards have walked into Chicago and took 2 on the road from the Bulls. Looking back at comments from the series preview on this site, let me remind you of what some Bulls fans had to say:

    @lj312chicago- “The Wizards are going to learn one huge, valuable lesson in the next week…….you can’t just flip a switch and start playing defense and you can’t win in the playoffs without defense…..Charlotte has a better chance of knocking off Miami then the Wizards do of knocking off the Bulls…P.S. All this if Nene is healthy talk …the Wizards can beat the Bulls…..is laughable….”

    @spthegr8- “Bulls in 5. The Wiz are a solid team but the Bulls D is gonna give them serious problems!!”

    @adamsjohn714- “The wizards have absolutely no shot. They’re the happy to be here team.”

    Then the excuses after Sunday’s win by the Wiz:

    @windycitymonstersofthemidway- “Worst officiating seen this season — refs had the Bulls back on their heels with a quick 4 personal fouls on Chicago before the game seemed to even be underway. Have seen this before, the officiating can take all the steam out of a team with a heavy onslaught of early calls . . . and that’s what happened to Chicago.”

    So what’s the issue? I thought Chicago would man handle the Wiz? I mean since it was CLEARLY the refs fault for the game 1 loss, are we blaming them again after game 2?

    Back to DC for the next 2. Here’s to hoping the Wiz keep that game face on and don’t get too lax!

    • pmpott - Apr 23, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      Joey Crawford was doing all he could to keep the Bulls in it. The Wiz had their hand in that too by only shooting 50% on free throws.

      • Eutaw's Finest - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        That phantom foul at the end of OT on Hinrich says it all. NeNe got all ball on that shot no matter what angle you look at it.

  2. obmig - Apr 23, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Nice work Wizards! A lot of guys on this site thought you had no chance as recently as a week ago.

  3. uscoach - Apr 23, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Wizards!

    Well-written article by the way.

  4. unxpexted1 - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Very nice when for the Wiz. I know they have the talent to win games, but was unsure if they had the mental toughness and experience. I feel like this is the type of game in the past the wizards would lose. Things going great in the first, experience a lil adversity with fouls and bullish play by the bulls who just tried to muck the game up. But I give them credit for being poised and holding on to when this game.

    My only concern with them, as its been during the season is late game execution. That last play ran for Beal for an awful jumper in the corner is the type of thing that gives me pause about Randy Wittman. He made some nice adjustments though. Switched from pick and role to drive and kick, and put Booker in the game to match Taj’s athleticism.

  5. cruzan80 - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    I really like this young team. THought they wouldve made the playoffs last season…probably would have if not for Wall’s injury. They just might have the best backcourt in the league.

    Doubt they’ll get out the 2nd round…but I would love to see them go deep.

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      well then tell them to really wine and dine Melo so he’ll sign with them then…

      • cruzan80 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Sorry but YOUR Bulls have already made it pretty clear that they will be 1st in line with a shiny limo & dinner reservations at Melo’s front door come this July hater….get over it.

  6. opinevain - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    There was a obvious offensive interference missed on the play when Boozer grabbed the rim, so lets not talk refs Bulls’ Fans.

  7. steelerfanforlife - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I am the biggest Bulls homer you’ll ever meet. I still think they can get back into this series but realistically looking at this we all should have seen that Wall and Beal were going to be a huge problem for the Bulls! Without Rose we don’t have anyone quick enough to stay with Wall and Beal. If you take them out of the game then you have to worry about Nene and Gortat. Gonna be tough to near impossible to win this series but I’ll hold out hope up until the Wizards win that 4th game! Go Bulls!

  8. emdawt - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    I said Wizards in 6 and they have an opportunity to bring out the broom: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/04/18/nba-playoff-preview-chicago-bulls-vs-washington-wizards/

    John Wall has to hit jumpers and the Wiz can’t worry about the extracurricular stuff that the Bulls will do for the rest of the series.

  9. sire2334 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    STOP…The Wizards haven’t won anything yet…Let the party start AFTER the series. Because let’s be honest, if get through the first everything after that is just icing. At least for me it is. But let’s get there first.

  10. jimeejohnson - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Bulls!

  11. sportsfan18 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    In Thibs we trust!

    He’ll have them practicing in full pads and helmets with heavy contact and their practice will last for 17 consecutive hours (don’t worry, they’ll get TWO whole water breaks and not just their usual one as the practice went more than 12 hrs).

    Then when he finally releases them to go home and they go to bed, he’ll begin calling them to talk about their mistakes he’s seeing as he’s watching the film of the practice they just finished.

    By the time he’s halfway through talking to each of the teams players this way he gets so mad that he calls for another practice, RIGHT THEN.

    He goes to wake the equipment manager and ball boys up (uh, they do NOT get to leave the practice facility during the playoffs at all) and tells them to be ready for a full practice in 15 min’s…

    Thibs wants to ask the refs if they can make each game last 117 min’s instead of a lousy 48 min’s as he knows his boys are still able to produce 4, 5 & 6 hrs after practice begins…

    Come on Bulls, NO WAY you should have lost BOTH at home.

    Congrats to the Wiz who did what they needed to though…

    • cruzan80 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      They would be up 2-0 if they had Melo….which is why Thibs, Noah & Rose will be 1st in line with a shiny limo & dinner reservations at Melo’s front door come this July.

  12. duhwighthoward - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    Didn’t the writers of probasketballtalk have Joakim Noah as the 3rd best player in the league behind Durant and LeBron? hahaha

    • calkinsrob - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      no, they dont… 3rd in MVP voting is not the same as 3rd best player in the league.

  13. iowahbr - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Here comes all the wait till Rose gets back but he ain’t the same Rose from 2 years ago and anyone who thinks differently will get the real message next year for sure. this isn’t the Thunder or the Heat, this is the Wizards.

    • Eutaw's Finest - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Wizards don’t have the “names” in Durant of LBJ, but they are not far off talent-wise from the Thunder or Heat- The Wiz split with the Thunder, their one loss in OT 105-106, and they split with the Heat, putting up 114 on them in each of their 2 wins, and losing by single digits in the 2 losses.

  14. unxpexted1 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    If I’m carmelo though, I’m sitting in NY like “All they need is me scoring on the wing”. They bulls are down 0-2 but they were in both games and put up such a fight. If they just had the one scorer.

    I don’t even think Rose and melo would work. I think it would be better if they just had Melo they way the team looks now.

    • arrondior - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      The Bulls have a fantastic opportunity to add Anthony and build the team they want. Rose is not going anywhere for the sheer fact that no team is going to take a chance on his legs right now. They have a ton of cap space next season. I expect Boozer to be dealt away in a trade package with another player and draft picks to New York who will let his contract expire after they tank next season for lottery balls. They have too many bad contracts on the books that will be expiring with Boozer’s to move, so they will just tank their way into some lottery balls for the 2015/2016 season.

  15. rrhoe - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I truly admire the Bulls grit,but they just don’t have enough fire power.

  16. chicitybulls - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    I said it before the series started and I’ll say it again. Didn’t expect this to be an easy series for the Bulls. Still think they can win it but even if they do or dont, NEITHER team is a championship contender so why all the hoopla and trash talk? Neither team that advances is going to win the championship this year.

  17. wethog66 - Apr 24, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Need 4 wins to win a series. The Wiz need to close things out. I think the Wiz can, but Chicago won’t lay down. Series is far from over.

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