The Bulls were supposed to be the physical ones. They were the ones who were supposed to dictate tempo and use their experience to weather the inexperienced Wizards down. Maybe that comes as this series progresses. For now, Washington does not care.
Nene bulldozed through Joakim Noah early and then picked apart the interior defense late for the Wizards. Somehow, someway, Washington cracked Chicago’s defense — particularly late — for a 102-93 win at United Center on Sunday night. This is going to be a series for those who believed the Wizards would struggle against the Bulls’ defense (I am looking at me).
Nene scored 24 points to lead the way for the Wizards. He was so difficult for the Bulls to handle as he established solid low post position and outmuscled Joakim Noah much of the night. When he was not in the post, he was making his jumper or finding open players with his superb passing ability.
Trevor Ariza added 18 and John Wall scored 16 (albeit on 14 field goal attempts) in his first Playoff game. All five Wizards starters scored in double figures.
The Bulls actually had the lead in this one for much of the game before the Wizards brought the energy and overwhelmed the Bulls with their precision. Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin each had 16 points. However Hinrich needed 16 field goal attempts and Augustin needed 15 to get there.
Chicago could not find much offense in the fourth quarter and that proved to be its undoing. It is tough to win when you shoot just 5 for 20 from beyond the arc and 42.0 percent from the floor.
In the final two minutes, it was as if no one wanted to take the big shot as the Bulls’ execution fell apart. This was not what you expected from the Bulls.