Take a quick glance at the box scores from Games 3 and 4, and it becomes clear pretty quickly why the Wizards lost the former and won the latter.
Turns out, not letting Mike Dunleavy score 35 points was a good strategy for the Zards. It also helped that Tom Thibodeau let Taj Gibson, far and away his best player in Game 4, languish on the bench for eight minutes to begin the second half.
There was so much to love about this game: Trevor Ariza's team-high 30 points, Bradley Beal's defense on Mike Dunleavy, John Wall's mature floor game, Ted's sporting a Nene jersey, the list goes on. Ariza shot 6-of-10 from three and also collected eight rebounds. Beal scored 18 points, but more importantly led the effort to hold Dunleavy to six points on 3-of-8 shooting. Wall shot only 4-of-15, but complimented his 15 points with 10 assists, committed only two turnovers, and helped limit D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich to a combined 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting.
Trevor Booker didn't light the world ablaze, but he capably filled in for Nene, grabbing a team-high nine boards to go with eight points and three blocks in 28 minutes. Marcin Gortat struggled from the field (6-of-18), but finished with a solid 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Andre Miller didn't make a dent on the box score, but he made a big play by getting the ball to Martell Webster (eight points) with Augustin guarding him, forcing the Bulls' most-consistent offensive threat to pick up his second foul less than a minute into the second quarter.
Gibson was the only Bull that really went loose on the Wiz, scoring a game-high 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting, and yet he only played the fourth-most minutes on the team. Thanks, Thibs?
Up 3-1 and looking every bit as superior as such a lead suggests, the Wizards have a great chance to wrap this one up in Chicago with Nene back for Game 5. Let's get it done!
Home team recaps: BF StoryStream | SB Nation (recap, Mike's Wall-Beal feature) | Washington Post (gamer, notes, Ariza sidebar, Wise column, JReid column, By the Numbers) | DC Sports Bog (best-worst, "Free Nene", sad Wilbon) | Washington Times (gamer, Booker sidebar, Loverro column) | AP | CSN Washington (recap, sidebar, Ariza/Booker, Beal vs. Dunleavy, Wall's leadership, Ted's Nene jersey, Gibson) | Truth About It (recap, Free Nene?, series over?) | Wiz of Awes (recap, Ariza sidebar) | DC Pro Sports Report | District Sports Page | DC Sports Box | ESPN | SI | CBS Sports | USA Today (gamer, sidebar) | Vavel | Ted's Take ("Total Team Win", buzz?, "Free Nene") | Wizards.com | Monumental Network (recap, analysis)
Road team recaps: Blog A Bull StoryStream | Chicago Tribune (gamer, Gibson sidebar, notes) | Chicago Sun-Times (gamer, Dunleavy sidebar) | ESPN Chicago (recap, sidebar, Wilbon column) | CSN Chicago (recap, sidebar, Wall-Beal, missing Nene?, Gibson's great game, Dunleavy injury, 3-1 history) | Daily Herald (gamer, column) | Pippen Ain't Easy | Hoops Habit | Fansided | Bulls.com
29 - Points scored by the Wizards off of 16 turnovers by the Bulls.
22:6 - Washington's assists:turnovers against the Bulls.
TWEETS OF THE NIGHT
Wall to Beal in the corner for a swish. NBA teams should get used to that for the next decade or so— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2014
Beal's been the best player on the court for a big chunk of this series— BullsBlogger (@BullsBlogger) April 27, 2014
We weren't joking. Funleavy has been banished. RT @BenStandig: Mike Dunleavy, 0-2 FG, zero points.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 27, 2014
These two guards, man. Special first-half performance. Wiz up 15 at halftime.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 27, 2014
NOBODY PUTS ARIZA IN THE CORNER, EXCEPT FOR BRADLEY BEAL ON THAT PERFECT PASS.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 27, 2014
Ryan Kelly (@RyanJKelly) April 27, 2014
All of the Bulls’ passing lanes are controlled by the Wizards— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2014
The season is on the line and you wait nearly eight minutes to put the only guy doing damage in the game. Strange.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 27, 2014
I'm going to put up Trevor Arizas shot chart on my wall like it's the famous Tyra Banks S.I. Swimsuit edition #WizBulls— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 27, 2014
Photo of the day: pic.twitter.com/ipOaJ9mhgD— Abe Schwadron (@abe_squad) April 27, 2014
Wizards 82-62 after three. Bulls appeal to league to reduce Nene suspension by a quarter— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) April 27, 2014
WE WANT OTTO— Andrew Sharp (@andrewsharp) April 27, 2014
87 points on 78 possessions for Wizards. Well over a point per possession again. Biggest surprise of playoffs is how easily they've scored— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) April 27, 2014
Beal with 5, rest of Wiz scoreless for 5:30 in 4th so far. Will Bulls annoy us by climbing back into game sorta but not enough?— BullsBlogger (@BullsBlogger) April 27, 2014
JWIZOW!!! pic.twitter.com/cZQ3iO6KLA— WzzzzzzzNtzzzzzzzzzz (@wzzntzz) April 27, 2014
Gortat is so happy pic.twitter.com/1gUtlD7Jpl— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 27, 2014
The Wizards are one win away from their first playoff series win since Bradley Beal was in diapers— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2014
Game? Over. Series? Also over. Goodnight.— HELLO my name is (@JohnCTownsend) April 27, 2014
Whoa. Crowd is seriously in a "FREE NENE" chant as Queen plays in the background. This is like a dream of mine or something.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 27, 2014
Ted Leonsis saw himself on big screen. Raised hands, turned & pointed to back of his jersey, which read, Nene. "Free Nene" chants! #wizards— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 27, 2014
Thousands of fans in the Phone Booth are chanting, "FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NENE FREE NEN— HELLO my name is (@JohnCTownsend) April 27, 2014
Wizards win, lead series 3-1. The @WashWizards are 5-0 all-time in best-of-7 series when they lead 3-1. Bulls are 0-8 when trailing 3-1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 27, 2014
right now Jackie Miles is standin in front ov Bulls team plane screamin "MY TARMAC!!!!!!!!!"— WzzzzzzzNtzzzzzzzzzz (@wzzntzz) April 27, 2014
"I'm going to talk to him about making those two foot shots. (Smiles) No really, Marcin has played hard." -Wittman on Gortats performance— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 27, 2014
"His speed and his intensity. And Beal and Ariza are so athletic. John and Bradley have really grown. Hard to guard" -Thibodeau on Wall+Wiz— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 27, 2014
The @WashWizards starting 5 outscored the Bulls starters 88-47.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 27, 2014
"They didn't have Nene. And they came out even harder." -Gibson on Game 4— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 27, 2014
Let's get it!! FYI.. Best 2pt 2reb game I ever had!!! Ha. Love you DC!!!— Drew Gooden (@DrewGooden) April 28, 2014
VIDEO/GIF OF THE NIGHT
(H/T Dawk Ins)
FIRST HALF GAMETHREAD COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
SECOND HALF GAMETHREAD COMMENT(S) OF THE NIGHT
Well done, Big Spoon.
GAME RECAP COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
So much greatness.