Wizards Grab Series by the Horns
Bradley Beal led the Washington to victory against the Chicago with 26 points and 7 rebound in Game 2 of the NBA playoffs at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box file photoCHICAGO, IL—While most other series were becoming even at a game apiece throughout the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Washington Wizards were determined to stay out in front in theirs. The Chicago Bulls, however, as proud a franchise as any and would not let it happen so easily. Four technical fouls, 49 personal fouls and a couple of calculated elbow shots to the cranial and throat regions were as messy as the Bulls could make such a crucial game.
Bradley Beal, in the midst of his share of skirmishes through two games, came on late to hit the Bulls up for 26 points, John Wall added 16 points and dished out seven assists and NeNe scored 17 points (six in overtime) to give the Wizards a 2-0 series lead with a 101-99 victory over the Bulls.
Beal led the Wizards comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his game-high 26 in the period. Washington went on an 11-4 run to tie the game at the end of regulation.
The Wizards came out strong in the overtime led by Nene scoring at will on the newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah. Washington held a six point-lead before dangerously coming close to letting it slip away with under a minute left in the overtime. Down two, with the ball, Chicago Guard Kirk Hinrich drew Nene’s sixth foul on a layup attempt. But with 2.4 seconds remaining, Hinrich—a 76 percent free throw shooter, missed the first free throw, and then intentionally missed the second, which Wall rebounded and exuberantly tossed into the frontcourt.
"I went up there thinking I was going to knock them down," Hinrich said. "Tonight, I just couldn't do it."
Washington came out strong early, leading 7-0 before the Bulls got on the scoreboard. The Wizards led 31-20 by the end of the first quarter and held as much as a 17-point lead in the first half. Cornered and unable to stop Washington’s offense, Chicago decided to reset the tone of the game. With 4:09 left in the first half, Hinrich and Beal got into a scuffle and were each assessed a technical.
“Good,” Martell Webster told the Washington Post after the 101-99 win. “That kind of game is good for him. It’s part of the maturation process. The way he came back and started hitting shots is how it has to be at this level. Wait till he gets that shot from the corner to go down consistently.”
Trevor Ariza was also love tapped with a Noah elbow in the third quarter leading to another pair of techs.
Bulls backup guard D.J. Augustin, 25 points, Noah 20 points and 12 rebounds and reserve forward Taj Gibson, 22 points and 10 rebounds, led Chicago to a 10-point lead with about five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But after scoring 36 points on 18-of-31 shooting in the paint during the first three quarters, the Bulls were held to 8 points on 4-of-11 shooting on such shots the rest of the game. Chicago was still poised to tie the series still up by 10 with five minutes remaining before the Wizards came back to tie on a 14-4 run.
"I think we did a great job staying calm and composed," Wall said. "Early in the season, we would get rattled and guys would try to make plays one on one on their own. Tonight, we trusted in our offense like we've been doing.
With Wall leading the offense, Washington whipped the ball around, causing Chicago’s stout defense to move around and blow assignments. Beal hit a clutch 3-pointer, then on the next possession nailed a 13-foot floater over the Bulls front line. With 52 seconds left he hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 91.
Washington had missed 11 free throws in the second half (5-16), but made of for it, going 4-4 in OT to hold on to the two-point win.
Washington returns home to the Verizon Center for game three. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST.