The Chicago Bulls were up against a Washington Wizards team without their starting power forward in Nenê, due to a suspension, but they were unable to take advantage of it. The Bulls took a 98-89 loss at the Verizon Center Sunday afternoon to give the Wizards the 3-1 series lead.
The Bulls had yet another slow start after the Wizards opened the game on a 7-0 run. The run forced Chicago to call a 20-second timeout with 10:19 remaining in the first quarter, but it didn’t help much at all.
Washington continued its scoring efficiency and defensive prowess by extending its run to 14-0 before Chicago was forced to, yet again, take a timeout. This time, though, it would be a full one.
After that timeout, the Bulls finally got on the scoreboard after an 18-foot jumper from Butler. Two jumpers from Joakim Noah, another shot from Butler and a layup from Taj Gibson cut Chicago’s deficit down, 10-20. Gibson continued to dominate on the offensive end, and would add six more points before the quarter ended 28-18 in Washington’s favor.
To open the second quarter, Noah completed a three-point play, which was followed up with a left-wing three from Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich would then feed Gibson for a dunk for an 8-0 Bulls run that brought the lead down, 32-26. Soon enough, the Wizards were only up by four points; however, that didn’t last too long.
Washington went on a 9-4 run to bring their lead back up to nine points. From there, the Wizards’ lead continued to increase. Trevor Ariza even buried a right baseline three right before halftime to give him team the 55-40 lead.
Gibson’s scoring kept the Bulls from facing an even greater deficit. He had half of Chicago’s points in the first two quarters off of a perfect 8-for-8 from the field. None of the other Bulls even scored in double figures. Noah came closest with seven points. D.J. Augustin, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell each saw playing time, but all failed to score. In fact, without Gibson’s contributions , the Bulls were only 7-for-32 from the field.
The Bulls managed to cut their deficit to 10 points after scoring on four-straight possessions, but that section of the third quarter was their most efficient. Chicago scored seven points the rest of the quarter while Washington scored 17 more points to take the 82-62 lead heading into the final period.
Chicago cut the lead back down to 10 points towards the end of the quarter, but, in the end, the Bulls dug themselves into too large of a deficit to comeback.
Gibson led all scorers with 32 points to go along with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and a block. Butler and Noah were the only other Bulls to score in double figures with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
Despite the continuous scoring struggles, the Bulls actually shot 44.9 percent from the field while the Wizards shot 40.7 percent. Chicago also out-rebounded Washington 42-38, but the difference came on turnovers. The Wizards only accumulated six turnovers throughout the game. Chicago, on the other hand, committed 16 turnovers that led to 29 points for Washington.
Game 5 will be back in Chicago at the United Center this Tuesday at 7 p.m. central.