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Trevor Ariza focuses, lifts short-handed Wizards in Game 4

Apr 27, 2014, 4:43 PM EDT

Trevor Ariza Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza didn’t celebrate his 3-pointer that put the Washington Wizards up 14-0. He didn’t motion to the crowd like his teammates when the Chicago Bulls took their second timeout in the game’s first four minutes. He didn’t reciprocate the pats on the back as he returned to the bench.

But when he cut baseline for a dunk that put Washington up 12 with a minute left, Ariza – the only Wizard with a championship ring – let loose.

He twisted off the rim, slapping the air on his way down. When he landed, he pumped his fists, jumped to shoulder bump Bradley Beal, yelled as he returned to the sideline, jumped to bump Martell Webster and gave high fives all around.

D.C.’s game-long celebration finally got Ariza’s stamp of approval.

Ariza scored a playoff career-high 30 points, leading the Wizards to a 98-89 Game 4 win over the Bulls on Sunday. By taking a 3-1 series lead, the Wizards have already won more playoff games than any season since 2005, and they’re one win – Game 5 is Tuesday in Chicago – from their first series victory since the same year.

With Nene suspended, Ariza elevated his game highest, but every Washington starter stepped up.

John Wall had 15 points, 10 assists and two steals. Bradley Beal scored 18 points on 13 shots. Not only did Ariza make 6-of-10 3-pointers, he contributed by more than just scoring, grabbing eight rebounds and two steals. Marcin Gortat posted 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. And Nene’s replacement, Trevor Booker, added eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks.

That unit – Wall, Beal, Ariza, Booker and Gortat – has now outscored the Bulls, 79-48, in 32 minutes this series .

The Wizards have found plenty of winning combinations, and that’s why they’re in control.

But the Bulls have a monster advantage, too. Tom Thibodeau just isn’t milking it enough.

Taj Gibson continues to thrash Washington, scoring 32 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Chicago just couldn’t score without him.

  • Gibson: 13-for-16  (81 percent)
  • Other Bulls: 22-for-62 (35 percent)

When Gibson played, Chicago’s offensive rating was 114.8. When he sat, it was 74.2.

Somehow, Thibodeau still played Gibson less than every Chicago starter besides Carlos Boozer (who nearly fouled out with five fouls in the third quarter alone).

Not even Mike Dunleavy, who scored 35 points in Game 3, helped. He staggered to the bench in the fourth quarter with a hand injury and didn’t return although he was medically cleared, finishing with six points on eight shots.

The Bulls will return to Chicago for Game 5, and maybe that gives them a jolt.

But Nene returns too, and Gibson won’t get as many opportunities to beat up Washington’s backup bigs, Drew Gooden and Al Harrington, as he had today.

What might have been the Bulls’ last chance to even this series fell apart nearly as quickly as it began. Eventually, even the focused Ariza had to acknowledge it.

  1. sire2334 - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Welp, got the win and Nene’s free now….Sucks for you.

  2. Kevin S. - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Not so smug now, are you Jo?

    Also, does anybody else find it hilarious that Thibs screwed up by not playing a guy enough minutes?

  3. Eutaw's Finest - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Crickets to be expected once again…

    What was that Chi fans about “sit down NeNe” and ” Bulls are gonna crush the Wiz?”

  4. Gordon - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Bulls fan here…Wiz are more talented than the Bulls. The fact that we are counting on Dunleavy and DJ to win should speak volumes.

    Not sure what you are looking for Eutaw. Your team is winning. What more would you like?

    I thought it was funny that you called Bulls fans “fair weather” the other day. You should check attendance & ratings records. We supported the Bulls even when they sucked. Can your fans say the same thing?

    • sire2334 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      Unfortunately….I can.

      • sixerstrong - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        I hear that…

      • sonnysuave - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:56 AM

        Chicago Bulls have fans in every city they go to… sometimes more Bulls fans show up on their road games than the hometown fans. Definitely can’t say the same for the Wizards… and will probably never reach that level or following. So it’s alright… you 3 Wizards fans can enjoy your moment, as it’s VERY RARE for your city. Gloat as much as you can now… cuz you probably won’t be able to do this again for another 10 years.

      • sire2334 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        sonnysuave, you’re right. There are a lot of fair-weather fans in this city…Not sure what that has to do with me or others who aren’t. I’m not one. I know Im not one and yes I’ll be enjoying this or any other future run this team goes on regardless of how rare or infrequent, thank you for your support.

  5. nfl4days - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    The Bulls lost? Bummer. Fans and I’m sure some of the players thought this game would be a cake walk without Nene.

  6. jasper36 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    And right or wrong the only thing to take the focus off of the Clippers, and their owner. Is to get the Clippers out of the playoffs. I hate to say it, but this is how the league works. The owner should have to pay, but ultimately I think the players will suffer. Due to all of this unwanted negativity.

  7. highsociety921 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Nene should not have been suspended this game. The NBA most likely wanted the Bulls to win (not going into the conspiracy they’re “fixing” it), just think they wanted a better series, of course ratings are everything in any broadcast/show. Either way, bulls are done for now. I heard D. Rose was seeing riding his bike around the city in his warm ups while stopping in at the local hooters(who wouldn’t?), beers and boobs…

  8. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Trevor Ariza has had a good season averaging 14.4ppg, shooting over 40% from 3, and you know his defense will always be there. Naturally, it must be a contract year for him. If he could consistently shoot the 3 that well he’d be a great asset for Miami or OKC. The Thunder especially would love a 3 & D guy to space the floor and maybe steal some of Sefolosha’s minutes when he’s not hitting it.

    • Eutaw's Finest - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      I understand the thought process, but as you said, this is a contract year- could the Thunder or Heat afford him? He’s not leaving a playoff team built to sustain for years to come, to take a vet min deal to play for the Thunder or Heat. At least I wouldn’t think he’d leave that kind of money on the table.

  9. mungman69 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:27 PM


  10. jzone954 - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:42 PM


  11. uscoach - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    As crazy as it seems, it appears the Wiz front office has put together a team with all of the necessary pieces. This is the type of thing ordinarily done by other franchises, but not Washington’s team. They have more playoff experience than most credit them with having, while still putting out a young, talented starting five. And, their reserves are among the best in the NBA as a group.

    They haven’t done anything yet, but if they are good enough to get the Heat in the EC Finals, then they will be good enough to beat the Heat in the EC Finals.

    • kinggw - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:20 PM

      Pump your brakes my friend. The Wiz looked good today, however beating the Rose-less Bulls is one thing, beating the Miami Heat to go the Finals is a different animal.

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:43 PM


      • Eutaw's Finest - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        Take the “Heat ramp up in the playoffs” sentiment out of the equation and look at the regular season H2H:

        Heat(103)- Wiz (93)

        Heat(97)- Wiz(114)

        Heat (99)- Wiz(90)

        Heat (93)- Wiz(114)

        Yes, I know LBJ sat the last game. But the Wiz still put up 114 on the Heat twice this year, and both Wiz losses were 10 and 9 points. They never crushed them. The Heat only broke 100pts once. It’s a fairly close series. And people think the Wiz have little playoff experience (primarily looking at Wall/Beal), yet guys like Ariza, Gortat, NeNe, Harrington, Miller and Gooden all have 40-50 games under their belts in the playoffs. While it pales in comparison to LBJ or Wade, it’s not as if this is a green team coming in. We can also look at average age- the Wiz are almost 4 years younger than the Heat. So while you can note that the Heat rested starters towards the end of the season to help their playoff push? The Wiz didn’t need that rest as much for the young legs.

        Again, this isn’t me saying the Wiz CAN beat the Heat. I just think it’s not outlandish to think they could give them a run for their money, or at the very least steal a few games in that series. But IF they happened to beat the Heat in a playoff series? I wouldn’t necessarily be in total shock either.

  12. Miami305 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    Who would have thunk that the Wizards would eliminate the Bulls in Rd 1? I know they still have to seal the deal, but it is as good as done.

  13. 00maltliquor - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Ariza is Washington’s unsung hero of the whole season. He’s been a huge contributor to the success all year long.

  14. obmig - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    This game had me worried, but once again the Wizards showed that they are growing up. A day off for NeNe has never been a bad thing.

  15. nard100 - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    Thanks Chicago. Your loud mouth, suck-tacular team has now given Wizard fans delusions of grandeur. That being said, I love how the whooped up on the Bulls without Nene. I love how despite all the talk all year of how they didn’t get respect, the only player who showed up was Gibson. I love how all the Bulls fan think that if they could just make it to Miami they actually would have had a chance to beat them, but couldn’t even get it up to get out of the FIRST ROUND. LOL

  16. unxpexted1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    I’m really happy for the wizards. been a fan of theirs awhile (even tho i’m primarily a laker fan) but its good to seem them putting a really good squad together. Possibly could make it to the ECF.

    But on another note….how good can Taj Gibson be.

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