Ariza drops 30 points as Wizards dominate Bulls

Ariza drops 30 points as Wizards dominate Bulls
April 27, 2014, 3:30 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

No one player could replace Nene, but the Wizards did it by committee on Sunday as they became the first team to win a game on their home floor in this series with a 98-89 victory against the Chicago Bulls to take a 3-1 lead. 

Trevor Ariza set a personal playoff and franchise high with six made three-pointers for a team-high 30 points, Bradley Beal had 18, Marcin Gortat 17 and John Wall 15. Trevor Booker, who replaced Nene in the starting lineup while he served a one-game suspension for a scuffle in Game 3, led with nine rebounds, Ariza had eight rebounds and Gortat six. Beal and Wall combined for eight rebounds.

Wall, who only shot 4-for-15, had 10 assists and just two turnovers. In the last two games, he has had only three. Gortat had five assists. 

Taj Gibson was the primary offense for Chicago with a game-high 32 points on 13-for-16 shooting. Joakim Noah had 16 points and Jimmy Butler 10.

The Wizards opened the game with a 14-0 run. In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, victory in hand, a sellout crowd of 20,356 showered the arena with "Free Nene" chants. 

[RELATED: Leonsis shows solidarity with Nene]

Turning point: Chicago made a 10-4 run to cut what had been a 15-point deficit to 32-28, but Beal made five consecutive points for push the Wizards ahead again by double-digits going into the half 55-40. The Bulls cut it to 10 early in the third, but Ariza, who opened with a three-pointer, was able to attack off the dribble to create easy shots for himself and teammates as the lead grew to as many as 21 points.

Key stats: The Wizards shot just 40.7% from the field, but they only had six turnovers which was 10 fewer than the Bulls. 

Book it: The Wizards were 12-10 with Booker starting lineup in place of Nene since the All-Star break, with the last time coming in a 96-78 loss to the Bulls at Verizon Center on April 5. Booker was efficient throughout in this one, including making an elbow jumper in the third quarter for a 70-55 lead. He finished with eight points, nine rebounds -- six offensive -- and three blocked shots. 

Problems solved: D.J. Augustin had been a problem all series with his instant offense and his ability to get in the paint, but the Wizards attacked him with whoever he was defending to get him three fouls in his first five minutes. He had eight points on 3-for-9 shooting. Mike Dunleavy, who torched the Wizards for 35 points in Game 3, was held without a point in the first half and finished with six points, all coming in the third quarter, on 3-for-8 shooting. 

From the locker room: "It was more a blessing in disguise, maybe the last 22 games that he missed at the end of the year. Book started all those games. There wasn't any worry of mine sticking in a guy that has to now start a playoff game because one of your main guys is now gone. Book did that for 22 games when he was gone. Our guys played well while he was gone and got us into a position to get into the playoffs and when he was back for the last four (regular season games), we won those. It was more a, 'You know what? We know what to do.'" -- Wittman on Booker starting for Nene

"We're not worried about our offense. Just taking care of the ball and playing defense. We feel like we'll be fine." -- Wall

"We were locked in early. We were locked in yesterday. We were pretty disappointed in the way we lost Game 3. With that being said, we had to come out there today and take care of business and that's what we did." -- Ariza 

"You turn the ball over too much and that was a huge problem. Usually when you look at how teams get three-point shots, which usually is in transition off the second shot, and that hurt us. Ariza had a huge game. And Wall made plays." -- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

"It's kind of been a thing of the series. We really struggle to get off to good starts and we are conscious of it and we did it again." -- Bulls PG Kirk Hinrich

Around the bend: The Wizards will practice Monday morning before leaving for Chicago, where they'll play Game 5 on Tuesday (CSN, 8 p.m. ET).