After game one of the series saw the front-court duo of Nene and Marcin Gortat lead the Washington Wizards to victory, the back-court tandem of Bradley Beal and John Wall led the way to a dramatic 101-99 win in overtime to give Washington a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Bulls.
Last Sunday, Beal and Wall combined for just 29 points. On Tuesday night, the young guards totaled 44 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. With Gortat and Nene struggling, it was clear the guards were going to have to win this game. For Beal, he took the game into his own hands late and shined.
Washington came out fast and made their first three shots to jump out to a 7-0 lead to start the game. At one point, the Wizards lead by 17, but took an 11 point lead into the second quarter. It was as good a quarter as we have seen all season and they had taken the crowd out of the game.
At the four-minute mark in the second quarter, Beal and Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich locked horns in an emotional moment that warranted double technicals. From that point forward, the game became much more physical. The once quiet hometown crowd came alive and the fight was on.
Along with a new-found intensity, Chicago also discovered quite the trio in D.J. Augustin, Taj Gibson and Hinrich. For the game, Augustin led with 25 points, but the trio poured in 59 points. In the second quarter, the Wizards didn’t have an answer for them defensively. With those three on the floor, the Bulls closed the lead to seven at halftime.
Throughout the regular season, the Wizards had a difficult time coming out of the locker room strong for the second half. On Tuesday night, they once again fell victim to that bad habit. Chicago outscored Washington 26-14 in the third quarter to take a five point lead into the final period.
Washington was then able to match Chicago’s intensity in a fourth quarter battle for the ages. With Nene, Wall and Beal all in foul trouble, everything seemed to be going the way of the Bulls. However, it was the Wizards’ youngest star that took the game over.
20-year old Bradley Beal dropped 11 fourth-quarter points to tie the game and force overtime. He showcased his wide array of skills by making two threes, but also finishing at the rim. While he did spoil a chance to take the lead in the final minute, it was his effort that gave Washington new life.
Washington jumped out to a 97-91 lead to begin the extra period thanks to six points from Nene. Trevor Booker and Wall then combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line to put the game just out of reach.
With two seconds remaining, Kirk Hinrich drove to the basket, guarded by Nene. Hinrich attempted a layup, but a foul was called on Nene, his sixth. The veteran Bulls’ guard then missed both free throws and Washington was able to secure the game winning rebound.
The Wizards now take a 2-0 lead in the series and head back to D.C. and hometown crowd at the Verizon Center. While it’s difficult for a team to comeback from being down 2-0, the past two games have been too closely contested to assume the Wizards can wrap it up at home.
The series now heads back to D.C. with the Wizards in control two games to none. Game three tips off in the Verizon Center on Friday night at 8 PM EST.