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Bulls Blow Another Lead, Head To DC In A Hole

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 23, 2014 2:00PM

Any Bulls fans out there who thought this squad had an easy path to the Eastern Conference finals (and you are out there) went to bed Tuesday night with a rude awakening after the team squandered another late lead in a 101-99 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards at the United Center. The Bulls now head to America’s capital city down 0-2 in this seven-game series, unable to score when needed and their vaunted defense showing cracks.

Things didn’t look good for Chicago at tip-off. Washington jumped to a quick 7-0 lead on two baskets by Nene and a three-point shot by Bradley Beal. The Wizards extended the lead to 15-6 with 6:22 left in the quarter and had a 29-12 lead with less than two minutes remaining before the Bulls DJ Augustin scored seven points to close the gap. The Wizards led 31-20 at the end of the quarter.

The two teams traded baskets at the start of the second quarter before the Bulls mounted a comeback. Augustin, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson sparked a 14-2 run to close the Washington lead to 47-46 with 1:58 left in the half. The Wizards, however, held firm and headed into halftime with a 56-49 lead.

The Bulls opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run behind Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy and took their first lead of the game with 5:06 left in the quarter on a Noah layup. The Bulls headed into the final quarter with a 75-70 lead and momentum.

In the fourth quarter the Bulls extended their lead to 10 on two Jimmy Butler free throws with 6:59 remaining in regulation but that’s when the Wizards roared back. Two three pointers by Beal and a Nene jump shot closed the gap to 91-88 Bulls with 2:48 remaining and a Beal free throw forced overtime with 52.9 seconds left. The overtime period was tight. Nene gave the Wizards a six-point lead with a fadeaway, a dunk and a jumper but the Bulls responded with free throws by Kirk Hinrich and a Gibson slam. Two free throws by John Wall gave Washington a 101-95 lead. The Bulls tried to mount a comeback but could only manage a layup and two free throws by Noah for the final score.

Beal led all scorers with 26 points for the Wizards while Nene scored 17 points and Wall added 16. The Bulls were led by Augustin’s 25 points. Noah and Gibson both posted double doubles. Gibson scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Noah scored 20 points with 10 boards. But the Bulls, working a nine-man rotation yet again, looked gassed in the closing moments. This is a team that leaves it all on the floor but coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t use many players.

At least the Bulls will have a few days rest before the series shifts to DC for Game 3 Sunday. Tip-off is at noon.