December 20, 2014

Washington Wizards Game 4 Recap: Ariza’s 30 Helps Wiz to 3-1 Series Lead Over Bulls

As thousands in the Verizon Center chanted “Free Nene” in honor of their suspended forward, Trevor Ariza carried much of the weight in the Washington Wizards’ commanding 98-89 win over the Chicago Bulls Sunday afternoon.

Ariza recorded a career playoff-high 30 points, completing six of 10 three-pointers, while Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and John Wall added 18, 17 and 15 points, respectively.

As Nene served his one-game suspension for grabbing Jimmy Butler’s head in an argument during the Wizards’ Game 3 loss, the Wizards looked to get an early jump on the Bulls in Game 4 to erase any doubts of their ability to carry onward.

They did exactly that – tallying the first 14 points of the game before Chicago could respond.

“Well, we were locked in,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman after the game. “I could tell our focus was back yesterday, even with the news of Nene when it came of being suspended. I saw our guys bond together like ‘That’s okay, big fella’s not going to be here, but that’s okay.’ We were in tune right from the start. Extra passes and simple plays, those are the things these guys are going to get tired of hearing me say. They probably can’t wait until this series is over because those are the things I’ve used with them in this series. Make the simple play. Make the easy play and we did that at the start of the game. We got a lot of different guys scoring and when we move the ball like we talked about in Game 3 at the third quarter where we stopped – the ball stopped and people stopped. We can’t play that way and we didn’t fall into that tonight.”

Perhaps even more, Washington enjoyed a tremendous advantage from behind the arc – going 8-for-19 compared to the Bulls’ 4-for-19.

Chicago power forward Taj Gibson did his best to keep his team in the mix, posting 32 points in 32 minutes on the floor, while adding seven rebounds. But, only Butler and Joakim Noah rounded out the Bulls’ double-digit-points club on the night.

The Bulls actually shot with greater efficiency – making 35 of 78 field goals to reach a 44.9 shooting percentage, compared to the Wizards’ 40.7 percent. But, they lacked execution from Game 3 star Mike Dunleavy, as well as Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich.

As has been the case throughout much of the series, the Wizards seemed on pace to run into foul trouble as four players recorded two fouls apiece before the start of halftime. They settled down, however, despite Trevor Booker earning a technical foul from the bench.

Washington cruised to a 28-18 lead to end the first quarter, but the Bulls regained some ground to pull within four points with 7:09 remaining until halftime. From there, Wall sank a jumper before Beal went back-to-back for a combined five points. Gortat rounded out the miniature run with a jumper that put the Wizards back in front by 13 points.

In fact, for the final 3:32 of the half, the game very much consisted of Gibson versus the Wizards. Only Gibson posted baskets for the Bulls – three, to be exact – while the Wizards added another 10 points to their total in the same time frame.

Just as they did in the second quarter, the Wizards outscored the Bulls 27-22 in the third.

In the fourth, the Bulls jumped on a 16-7 run, sparked by early baskets from Gibson and Tony Snell. But, the game ended much as it begun – with powerful drives from Gortat, Ariza and Beal – to hand the Bulls their 98-89 loss.

“I know a lot of people probably doubted us,” Beal said. “We did a great job coming out and focusing in. It started with our defense like [John Wall] said. Once we got out to that 14-0 run at the beginning of the game, we just took off from there. Yeah, [the Bulls] went on that run, but I think we did a great job of staying poised the rest of the game.”

“In two and a half years, we’ve grown and developed those intangibles, you talk about, not just the skill level, but playing the game the right way, doing the right things off the floor as well as on the floor, being professional, as I like to call it,” Wittman said. “I think now these guys are just playing basketball, they understand that this is a job. Playing games like this helps that. Like I said, we haven’t done anything yet. We’ve put ourselves in a position to do something but we have yet to do anything.”

Worth noting is that the Washington Wizards franchise boasts a 5-0 record in closing out a best-of-seven playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead. This record has held true through 1971, 1975, 1978 (twice) and 1979.

Washington Wizards Game 2 Recap: Wiz Narrowly Edge Bulls to Take 2-0 Series Lead

After charging out of the gates in Game 1, the Washington Wizards clawed back from a sloppy second half to top the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday night in an overtime contest littered with sloppy mistakes, questionable foul calls and missed free baskets.

But, just as it appeared Game 2 had all but slipped from the Wizards’ grasp, Nene once again emerged from the dust, this time to help undo the damage of the third and fourth quarters.

Early in the night, it appeared the Wizards were on pace to shut down the Bulls from start to finish. On the backs of Bradley Beal and John Wall, Washington leaped to a swift 17-point lead before the close of the first quarter. By evening’s end, Beal recorded 26 points and Wall added another 16 to Washington’s efforts.

But the earliest signs of a moment change surfaced in the final 1:41 of the first, when D.J. Augustin began to pester Washington, posting a quick eight points to pull Chicago within 11.

The Bulls outscored the Wizards in the second quarter, 29-25. Along with Joakim Noah, Augustin continued to hurt Washington. Perhaps more importantly, the Bulls accomplished something the Wizards struggled with throughout the night — they made their free throws.

Washington fell asleep in the third quarter, posting just 14 points to compete with the Bulls’ 26. Worse yet, the Wizards quickly found themselves in foul trouble with their backs against the wall.

Yet, somehow, Nene fueled Washington’s resurgence in the five extra minutes of basketball. He opened overtime with a two-point shot before slamming one in to put the Wizards up 95-91 with 3:24 remaining.

At long last, the Wizards sank their free throws to remain in front. As irony would have it, with Kirk Hinrich at the line, the Bulls found themselves a pair of missed free throws away from catching Washington. Instead, the Wizards held on to win it, marking the first time since 1982 that Washington has led a playoff series 2-0.

Washington Wizards Game 1 Recap: Wiz come back to beat Bulls on road

Behind 24 points from Nene and some timely veteran presence from backup point guard Andre Miller, the Washington Wizards came back from a 13-point third quarter deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup 102-93.

The Wizards outscored Chicago 30-18 in the fourth quarter.

Nene was a force all game, dominating in the paint and drilling medium range jumpers with equal ease. He grabbed eight boards and handed out three assists to lead the Wizards in every sense of the word.

Miller was outstanding in a reserve role. He entered in the third quarter while the Wizards were facing some of their deepest deficits and jump-started the comeback, slashing through the lane for a couple of easy layups and completely shutting down Bulls PG D.J. Augustine. Miller finished with 10 points in 13 minutes.

Trevor Ariza added 18 points and John Wall chipped in with 16. Wall was just 4-of-14 from the floor and Bradley Beal, who finished with 13 points, went 3-of-11. Marcin Gortat has 13 rebounds to go with 15 points.

Augustine and Kirk Hinrichs finished with 16 points apiece to pace Chicago.

The Wizards, ranked 25th in the league in free throw shooting, went to the line 35 times and made 26 but made all 12 of their fourth-quarter attempts. They were 12-for-19 in the first half.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Chicago at 9:35 pm ET.

Washington Wizards Game 82 Recap: Wizards Rout Celtics to Clinch No. 5 Seed in East

Photo tweeted by @DrewGooden with the caption "Headed back DC! Let's get it!!"

Photo tweeted by @DrewGooden with the caption “Headed back DC! Let’s get it!!”

Bradley Beal scored 27 points and all five of the Washington Wizards’ starters reached double-digit scoring as the Wiz Kids topped the Boston Celtics 118-102 at TD Garden Wednesday night.

With the win, the Wizards finish the regular season six games above .500 and secure the Eastern Conference’s No. 5 seed. Washington will take on the Chicago Bulls in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

At the end of the first quarter, it was clear Washington was going to run with the lead. John Wall tallied 13 of the Wizards’ 38 points in the first 12 minutes of play, and the team played like a cohesive unit counting down the days to the postseason.

The Celtics nearly matched the Wizards’ efforts in the second quarter as Chris Johnson and Jeff Green helped the team to a quick 11-3 run. With roughly six minutes left in the half, Nene and Beal hit a three each to keep the Celtics at bay and Washington took advantage of free baskets to end the half up 68-56.

The third proved a slower quarter for both teams. Washington went nearly two and a half minutes before sinking a basket and, in that time frame, Boston pulled within four points.

But, at last, it was the Wizards’ night to celebrate the end of the regular season, knowing there is still basketball left to be played.

In the final five minutes of play, Washington went on an offensive drive, shutting down the Celtics to regain a 16-point lead to end of the quarter.

Beal had a field day in the fourth, posting 12 points to help the Wizards write off the season with a 118-102 win.

The Wizards will first face the No. 4 Chicago Bulls (44-34) on the road on Easter Sunday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Game two will take place in Chicago on Tuesday, April 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

And, the Washington Wizards will return home Friday, April 28, to take on the Bulls in an ESPN primetime game at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Game four is slated for Sunday, April 27 at 1:00 p.m.

If necessary, game five will take place in Chicago on Tuesday, April 29; game six will take place in Washington on Thursday, May 1, and Game seven will send the two teams back to Chicago for a sudden-death matchup on Saturday, May 3.

Washington Wizards Game 36 Recap: Road luck continues as Wall, Nene lead Wiz in Win over Bulls

Following two tough losses, the Washington Wizards reached .500 on the road with a 102-88 win over the Chicago Bulls Monday night.

John Wall and Nene each posted 19 points for the Wizards, as Wall added seven rebounds and five assists the effort. All but Trevor Booker and Marcin Gortat reached double-digit points before day’s end and Gortat came up big with 11 rebounds on the night.

All in all, it was a well-rounded effort. Washington moved the ball well with 25 total assists. They outpaced the Bulls and stayed in front from the get-go, never appearing to run out of gas as they had in recent matchups.

Just three and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Wizards carried a 36-21 lead thanks, in part, to a series of missed jumpers and bad passes by Chicago.

The Bulls bounced back a bit, trimming the lead to as few as six points on a Carlos Boozer jumper minutes later. But, with four and a half minutes remaining in the half, Trevor Ariza sank back-to-back threes to put Washington up by double-digit points once more.

Wall came through with four free throws and a layup, and Ariza added another free basket to help carry the Wizards to a 56-43 lead at the half.

The Bulls outscored the Wizards 25-22 in the third quarter, which featured nine of Boozer’s 19 points on the night. Taj Gibson’s shot with three seconds to go narrowed Washington’s lead to 75-68, but Garrett Temple quickly answered with a 30-foot shot at the buzzer. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 74 Wrap: Wall’s 27 points power Wizards to eighth straight home win

The Washington Wizards (28-46) may have their sights set on ninth place in the East, but John Wall played as though the Wiz Kids were vying for a playoff spot in the team’s 90-86 win over the Chicago Bulls (40-33) at the Verizon Center. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game Wrap 42: Okafor, Nene deliver in Wizards’ fifth straight win at home

The Washington Wizards (11-31) cruised to an 86-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls (26-17) at the Verizon Center Saturday night, marking the first time since January 2008 that Washington has celebrated five straight wins at home.

The game lacked the dazzling plays and late-quarter dramatics that many of the Wizards’ seven wins in the past 10 games featured. The crowd – which represented the Wizards’ third sellout this season – rose to its feet primarily for giveaways and Jumbotron opportunities until the game’s final minutes.

But, the Wizards did exactly what they needed to in order to beat the Bulls at home for the first time since Feb. 22, 2010.

They spread the ball and – more importantly – they shared the wealth. By the end of the night, three of the Wizards’ starters – Emeka Okafor, Nene and John Wall – tallied double-digit points. Okafor added 16 boards to round out his ninth double-double of the season. Even more, while Wall – along with Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin – struggled to sink mid-range jumpers, the Wizards scored 48 points in the paint – nearly 15 points higher than their average this season. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 42 Postgame Audio: Nene “We Going To Shut Up People Mouth”

WASHINGTON–The Washington Wizards won their fifth straight home game for the first time since 2008 as they defeat the Chicago Bulls 86-73.  The Wizards have won seven of their last ten, largely because for the first time this season they’re fully healthy, and forward Nene had some words for all the early critics out there.

“I remember like in the beginning everybody say we sucks…now we going to shut up people mouth, that’s what we going to do.”

And they’re doing it as they defeat another likely playoff bound team.  This time it was done by defense as they held the Bulls to only 29 second half points.

“Couldn’t be any more proud of these guys,”  Head Coach Randy Wittman said about the defense.  “These guys defensively tonight were in tune. That’s what won the game.”

Wittman said he switched something defensively at the half, but wouldn’t divulge what. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game Wrap 28: Wizards Start Strong, Fade Against Bulls

Searching for their first back-to-back wins in what seems like an eternity, the Washington Wizards could not climb out of a second and third quarter hole to overcome the Chicago Bulls in a 87-77 loss.

Washington started out strong in the first quarter as a whole. Despite opening the game sluggish, the team was able to pull itself together to take control. Heading into the second quarter, the Wizards held on to a slim 26-22 lead.

The red, white and blue took their six point lead and expanded it to eight in the opening moments of the second quarter. After taking their most commanding lead of the day though, it started to go all downhill and quickly for the Wizards. Chicago continually hit big shots and caused turnovers to limit Washingtons opportunities to get on the board.

As a team, the Wizards turned the ball over 16 times, compared to Chicago’s just eight giveaways. Garrett Temple, Friday night’s star who made his first start on Saturday, was the bigest culprit of the turnover issues, with four. Two other Wizards, Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin, both had three turnovers apiece.

A win was already going to be a tough for the Wizards, even before they lost their leading scorer before the game. Jordan Crawford did not dress because of right ankle soreness and it really showed in the team’s offensive production. For the game, the team only shot 36 percent from the floor and only knocked down three of their 10 three point attempts. Crawford joins a long list of injured players including, John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Chris Singleton and A.J. Price.

Nene started another game for Washington, but is clearly still on a minutes limit, only playing 25 total. It was not the typical Nene performance fans are used to though, with the Brazilian native only scoring ten points with nine rebounds and going minus-six on the evening.

Perhaps the best Wizard on the floor all night was Emeka Okafor, who knocked down 11 points with 18 rebounds, 12 of them on the defensive side of the court. He was key in the second half when the Wizards were trying to fight their way back during the third and fourth quarters. Repeatedly Okafor was waiting to snag a rebound after a bad Bulls shot and helped the Wizards keep it close.

Even without their best player, Derek Rose, the Bulls still victimized the Wizards with their other two, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Boozer totalled 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Noah added nine of his own and 11 boards. The two of them combined with the hot shooting Kirk Hinrich for 34 of Chicago’s total points.

It is yet another road loss for the Wizards, who are now just 1-13 away from the Verizon Center. They return home on New Years Day to face another elite team in the Dallas Mavericks at the Verizon Center. Washington will be going for their second home winning streak of the year.

Washington Wizards stun depleted Chicago Bulls on the road

Monday night, the Washington Wizards defeated another playoff-bound contender as they earned an 87-84 win over the Chicago Bulls.

They came back from a deficit in the second half and stormed back in the final minutes of the contest for their 15th victory of the season.

The Wizards were down 65-57 at the start of the fourth quarter to the Bulls; however, they would not waiver at all. They went on a 13-0 run at the start of the period, capped off by a Shelvin Mack jumper to take a 70-68 lead with 7:22 remaining.

Chicago tied the game at 70 a little more than 30 second later and both teams would fight it out until the very end. Washington would never go up by more than four until the end of the game, but they held off their opponents down the stretch.

Chicago reduced the deficit to one, 85-84, with 16 seconds left in the game thanks to a clutch three-pointer by C.J. Watson; however, the Wizards’ Maurice Evans would be fouled with 15 seconds left in the game, end up at the free-throw line, make both of his shots.

With the Wizards up 87-84, the Bulls had time to rally and perhaps stun them, but Chris Singleton blocked a Richard Hamilton three-point attempt and missed subsequent shots by Watson and John Lucas.

A talented Chicago squad could not get anything to materialize in the final seconds, and Washington pulled off the grand upset.

Granted, the Bulls were without Derrick Rose – the best player on their squad – however, the Wizards rallied to comeback against a formidable opponent.

Considering the Wizards trailed in the first quarter and trailed 43-40 at the half, Monday’s victory was an inspiring one in a tough season.

For Washington, Kevin Seraphin was a significant contributor with 21 points and 13 rebounds. John Wall had 16 points and five assists; meanwhile, Maurice Evans scored 14 points off the bench in 26 minutes of play.

Chicago’s Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 22 points. C.J. Watson had 17 points, Carlos Boozer had 16, and Joakim Noah had 6 points, plus 11 rebounds.

After the game, Wizards interim coach Randy Wittman spoke about the compelling victory.

“They responded tonight. We talked about getting our edge back. It was good to see them respond after a couple of bloopers we’ve had lately. We talked that if we’re going to go down, we want to go down aggressively.”

He added, “Tonight our defense was good, I thought that Mo Evans, for not having played much, came out ready and played well for us.”

With the season winding down, the Wizards have not played as well as they have liked; however, they have beaten some quality opponents – such as Chicago – and hope to build from it.

They know how that is how a young Washington squad will get better.

“This team has shown a lot of potential all year. With another good draft and this core group, we have an opportunity to do something special in the future,” remarked Maurice Evans.

There has been a lot of losing with the Wizards, plus ups and downs, they know that lumps sometimes have to be taken to forge ahead and build up their character.

Wall added,” I always play hard, but the losing is tough. We beat the likes of the Lakers, Oklahoma City, and Chicago, and we can look up to those wins. Everyone wants success early, but you need these kinds of bumps and bruises in your career to grow.”

The Wizards are back at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night at 7pm to face the Milwaukee Bucks.

Quotes for this article were obtained from published sources.

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