Final Score: Wizards 98 Bulls 89
For one night, it was no Nene, no problems. Trevor Ariza scored 30 points and the Wizards got a relatively easy win in game 4, 98-89. The Bulls were down by 20 entering the fourth, and got as close as eight, but this one was never in doubt. Chicago actually shot the ball better than Washington (44.9% to 40.7%) but were plagued by turnovers, as they committed 16 and Washington turned that into 29 points. The Wizards on the flip side only committed six for the game.
The Wizards opened the game on a 14-0 run and never trailed in the contest. The Bulls got as close as four in the second quarter but the wizards responded with a 13-4 run to keep Chicago at bay. Chicago outplayed Washington in the fourth quarter but it was not nearly enough as they could not recover from the 20 point hole they had dug themselves into.
Both teams did a lot of damage on the offensive glass as defensive boards were hard to come by. The Wizards grabbed 14 on the offensive end and the Bulls 13. Three point shooting made a big difference in this one, as Washington, was 8/19 for 42.1% (with six of those by Ariza and two by Beal) and the Bulls were just 4/19 for 21.1%. The Wizards free throw shooting, which had plagued them in past games, was solid, as they were 20/25 for 80%.
Ariza's 30 points were a playoff career-high for him and his six threes tied a playoff franchise record. Beal continued to shoot the ball well, going 7/13 and 2/3 from long distance for 18 points. Gortat did not have his most efficient game, shooting just 6/18 but scored 17 points, and was a game-high +24. He also had six boards and five assists. Wall had his first playoff double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.
For the Bulls, Taj Gibson did most of the damage, scoring a game-high 32 points on a hyper efficient 13/16 from the field. Gibson led the Bulls bench to a 42-10 margin over the Wizards second unit. Butler had 16 on just 5/14 shooting and Noah had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The Wizards can now head back to Chicago where they can close out the Bulls in game 5, which is Tuesday night at 8pm. - Jacob Raim
Third Quarter Update
Trevor Ariza opened the second half the way he closed the first, with a three ball and from there it was all Washington, as they head to the fourth quarter up by 20, 82-62. Ariza had ten points in the third quarter, and now has 27 in the game on 9/14 shooting, including 6/9 from long range. Gortat got into the game in a big way in the third quarter, and now has 13. Wall has a double-double in his sights with 15 points and nine assists. Gibson was kept off the score sheet in the third entirely, some great work done by Drew Gooden on him after Booker picked up his fourth foul. The Wizards just need to hold on for 12 minutes to take a three games to one series lead. - Jacob Raim
Trevor Ariza drilled a three at the buzzer to cap an impressive first half for the Wizards which has them up by 15 at the break, 55-40. Trevor Ariza was red hot from outside, going 5/6 from long range on the way to 17 points in the half. Beal and Wall each had 10. Washington shot 50% from the field, 50% from three and 100% from the charity stripe. The Bulls shot just 37.5% in the half, and the only reason they are not down by even more is their work on the offensive boards. The Bulls got second chance after second chance, grabbing eight offensive boards in the half. Gibson had a dominant half, shooting a perfect 8/8 from the field on the way to scoring 20, or half of the Bulls first half production. He was also responsible for three of those offensive boards. The Bulls could not protect the ball though, turning it over 11 times which turned into 18 points for the Wizards. Washington in contrast turned it over just four times.
The key to the second half for Washington will be limiting the Bulls second chance opportunities. The Bulls offense has not done much other than crash the glass and get putbacks, particularly Gibson. The Wizards bigs didn't get in much worse foul trouble after a first quarter filled with foul calls, as Booker now has three, and Gortat, Harrington and Gooden have two each. Second half coming up next. - Jacob Raim
First Quarter Update
Trevor Ariza and the Wizards jumped out to a dream start, going up 14-0 and ending the quarter up ten, 28-18. Ariza had 11 points on 4/5 shooting, including 3/3 from beyond the arc. The Bulls shot just 6/20 from the field for 30%, but cut into the Wizards lead through getting to the free throw line. Gibson did most of the damage for Chicago, scoring eight points on 2/2 shooting and 4/5 from the stripe. Washington protected the ball, turning it over just once compared to four times for Chicago. The Wizards shot 47.6% from the field, starting the game red hot but slowing down some as the quarter went on. The fouls all went against the big men, as the Wizards will be forced to play with some foul trouble. Gortat, Harrington, and Booker all picked up two fouls in the first quarter. - Jacob Raim
Welcome to Game 4 at Verizon Center!
The towels are in place on every seat and the fans are filing in for what is to this point the biggest game of the season for the Wizards.
If they win, they take a commanding 3-1 series lead, but if the Bulls win, they even the series at 2-2 and take back home court advantage with Game 5 set for Tuesday night in Chicago.
If the Wizards are to win, they'll need to do so without Nene. He is suspended for today's game after his on-court incident with Jimmy Butler in Game 3. More on this below from yesterday's practice, but Randy Wittman did talk about how the team is more than prepared to do so before today's game:
We also heard from Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who said that his team will be prepared for the combination of big men that have to fill in for Nene:
All that's left now is to get this Game 4 party started. A nice 1pm tip on national TV (ABC) for the whole world to see.
We'll be in the Live Chat at gametime on WashingtonWizards.com.
Next man up.
That has to be the mentality after we learned on Saturday that
Nene has been suspended for Game 4
from his on-court incident with Jimmy Butler on Friday night.
Playing without Nene is not foreign to this team, they played 22 of the final 26 games of the regular season without him due to his strained knee and went 12-10 in those games.
But, one of those losses was a 96-78 loss to the Bulls on April 5th and while it's hard to compare a regular season game with a playoff game, there's no question Nene's presence will be missed in this physical series.
Now the question will be who steps up? In all likelihood Trevor Booker will move back into the starting lineup (he started all 22 of the games Nene missed in the final 26) and we'll see a combination of either Drew Gooden, Al Harrington, and/or Kevin Seraphin play off the bench.
Gooden was called on to log most of the minutes in Nene's absence in the fourth quarter of Game 3, but it really could be a feel thing for Randy Wittman and his staff.
Not one player can make up for what Nene brings to the table from both a skill standpoint or a physical presence, but the team will need to be just that, a team, and have a collection of players contribute to make up for his absence.
We heard from some of the guys and head coach Randy Wittman after practice on Saturday. (*Editors Note: All interviews were conducted before the 4pm announcement of Nene's suspension)
: "You better bring it, it's a chance for me to play a bigger role. The inside offense is going to be run through me and I have to perform and be on top of my game."
: "I just have to step up."
: "This is what I'm here for, this is my role on the team."
: "We got the rest of our bigs, I think they'll be more than capable of fulfilling their role."
: "We're more than capable with who we have on this team."
The Wizards still have home court advantage in this series and still have a 2-1 series lead heading into Sunday's Game 4. This could be the ultimate swing game as the winner will have the momentum in the series and position themselves to win this thing.
It will certainly be a challenge for the Wizards as they face adversity for the first time in the series coming off a loss and playing without their big man, but they've responded well to adverse times all season and will need to step up and be the first team to win a game at home in this first round matchup.
Game 4 will take place on Sunday at 1pm at Verizon Center on ABC. It can be heard on 99.1 FM or 1500 AM.
Here's everything you need to know
if you're coming to Game 4.
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