Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls never got over the hump,
or over the shoulders of Nene and Marcin Gortat in the closing minutes.
John Wall had 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists and the Washington
Wizards advanced in the playoffs for just the third time in 35 years following
a 75-69 win over the Bulls in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round
Chicago trailed by nine going into the fourth, but clawed within 72-69
after D.J. Augustin sunk a pair of free throws with 2:18 left.
The Wizards, though, took the next 1:19 off the clock as a trio of backtaps by
Gortat gave them extra possessions. Bradley Beal wound up turning the ball
over to Chicago with 59.8 ticks to play.
Carlos Boozer was blocked by Gortat at the other end, but a Washington shot
clock violation gave the ball back to the Bulls with 22.4 seconds remaining.
Jimmy Butler missed a left-handed layup for Chicago following a timeout and
Andre Miller was off the mark on two free throws, but a backtap by Nene this
time helped Washington regain possession.
Beal then split a pair of bonus shots, but another Nene offensive rebound with
10.9 seconds to play essentially sealed it as Wall proceeded to knock down two
from the charity stripe.
Nene, who returned after serving his one-game suspension for grabbing the head
of Butler in Game 3, tallied 20 points and seven rebounds. Beal added 17
points for Washington, which last advanced after defeating Chicago in six
games of a first-round series in 2005.
"The main thing is to focus in and know what this team is capable of," Wall
The fifth-seeded Wizards will face either Indiana or Atlanta in the Eastern
Kirk Hinrich and Butler netted 16 points apiece for the Bulls, who shot just
33.3 percent (25-of-75) from the floor. Joakim Noah snatched 18 rebounds.
"I am proud of the way we competed all year. We dealt with a lot. Whenever a
season is over it is always tough," Noah said.
The game was tied 41-41 at the break, but the Wizards surged ahead in the
third by capitalizing on Chicago's six turnovers in the frame.
They closed the quarter on a 16-6 run with four of those Bulls giveaways
coming during the swing. Beal poured in eight points during the burst, which
Wall finished off by splitting a pair from the foul line for a 61-52 cushion.
Chicago shot just 25 percent (4-of-16) in the third.
Earlier, Nene put in the final four points of a mini 6-0 Washington spurt,
which staked it to a 15-10 advantage past the midway point of the opening
frame. The Wizards, who led after the first quarter of every game in the set,
settled for a 23-15 cushion after one.
Washington stretched the margin to 32-21 before Taj Gibson put in six points
during a 14-2 Bulls surge during the middle stages of the second. He sunk two
free throws to cap it and give Chicago a 35-34 edge.
The Wizards knocked off the New Jersey Nets 2-0 in a first-round set in 1982
... Gibson rolled his left ankle in the fourth quarter and did not return ...
Washington outrebounded Chicago, 49-43.