Wow. What a game.
First, this Bulls team doesn't fold. The Wizards had to earn this win. Despite an early 29-12 lead in the first quarter, D.J. Augustin was a major driving force to keep Chicago in this game. He scored 11 straight points from the end of the first quarter through the second quarter and helped keep them in it. He ended up with 25 point assists and seven assists, both career highs.
The Wizards ultimately gave that lead up in the third quarter and were losing by as much as 10 points late in the fourth until Martell Webster and Bradley Beal made threes to ultimately put the Wizards in a position to win, but a Beal missed shot at the buzzer got this into overtime tied at 91.
In overtime, the Wizards raced to a quick 6-0 run, but Chicago managed to make things interesting late, as John Wall had a bad offensive foul late on an inbounds play. Two Noah free throws made it a one possession game with 28 seconds left, and Kirk Hinrich drew a foul with two seconds left. But he missed his crucial free throws and the Wizards survived.
The Wizards also had to battle a day when some calls, particularly during the middle of the game, didn't go their way. The Bulls dialed up the physicality and the referees swallowed the whistles. For example:
The Wizards also overcame their own awful free-throw shooting, making just 16 of 28 in the game. In the third quarter, when Chicago began to really get this game going in their favor, the Wizards missed their first four free throws, two by Nene and two more by Wall. That needs to improve in their next game.
Still, despite the fact that the Wizards faced these issues, they won this game, against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. And this is really, really sweet.
Game 3 is on Friday, April 25 at 8 p.m. at Verizon Center. Time to show the whole country what playoff basketball is like in the nation's capital once again. Man, this win feels great!
Some other notes:
- The crowd didn't really start getting into this game until Beal and Kirk Hinrich got tied up on an inbounds play when they got double technicals midway through the second quarter. At that point, Hinrich pumped up the crowd and this really changed the rest of the tone of this game, and their defense took control.
- The Bulls lost their last five home playoff games.
- After the game, TNT's Charles Barkley reiterated that the Wizards are the third best team in the Eastern Conference, and said that they will sweep the Bulls. Given what we saw in these last two games, I certainly get where he's coming from.
- Randy Wittman is still undefeated in the postseason!