The Wizards played the game at Chicago's pace but still pulled out the victory and the series in game 5. How did it happen?
1. Crashing the Offensive Glass
The Bulls may not have shot the ball well in this one, but in the final minutes, they weren't even given a chance due to Nene and Gortat's work on the offensive boards. The Bulls were without Taj Gibson down the stretch and Washington took advantage. The Wizards tried to get the Bulls back in the game with missed free throws, but the big men weren't having it, giving the Wizards extra possessions down the stretch to seal the win. The Bulls had just two offensive possessions in the final 2:18 of the game.
2. John Wall's Turn as Closer
In the fourth quarter of game 5, buckets for both teams were incredibly difficult to come by. The two teams combined for a total of 31 points, which made John wall's nine points in the final frame all the more impressive. Wall had struggled with his shot for a lot of the day, and gotten his points by driving and drawing fouls. In the fourth he finally found his range though, and it might've just saved the game for Washington with the two biggest shots of the game, both times when Chicago had cut the lead to three. First was a three ball immediately following a Hinrich three, and later it was a tough 18 footer as the shot clock was expiring.
3. Nene's Play Against Noah
Noah may have been playing hurt, but Nene had his way with him in game 5. Returning from his one game suspension, Nene started of hot and didn't stop, finishing with 20 points on 10/17 shooting. Noah repeatedly had expressions of disbelief as Nene hit jumper after jumper with Noah in his face. All Nene did was smile in response. The Bulls had made it so hard to get into the paint, so Nene responded with a brilliant shooting night from 15-20 feet. Nene also played the hustle game, chasing after every loose ball and getting tip-out offensive boards in crucial moments. It was more of the same for Nene who dominated just about all series, but he really took the wind out of Noah's sails and the Bulls in general.
4. Defensive Domination
Everybody contributed on the defensive end, whether it was the bigs holding Chicago to 9/27 shooting in the paint, or Ariza being primarily responsible for limiting Augustin to 1/10 shooting. The Bulls got few good looks from outside, and really struggled to convert against Washington's front line inside. Hinrich and Butler were the only Bulls to see marginal levels of offensive success, with only Hinrich managing to shoot at least 50% Overall the Bulls shot just 33.3% and scored a season-low 69 points.