Bulls Season Over With Loss To Wizards
By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 30, 2014 1:45PM
Remember before these NBA Playoffs began when all the talk was about whether opponents wanted to face the Bulls with their tenacious defense and continuous hustle? We all should have reminded ourselves of the team’s recent playoff runs after a 75-69 loss to the Washington Wizards at the United Center Tuesday night that eliminated the Bulls from the postseason after a surprising 47-35 regular season record and a surge to earn the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed.
In the end, the Bulls had just enough talent and hustle to make the playoffs as the Wizards displayed better depth, talent and, at times, were even better coached. Coach Tom Thibodeau had few answers for the offensive and defensive schemes Washington threw at his team, who looked haggard by the final buzzer.
A Carlos Boozer jump shot gave the Bulls an early 2-0 lead but, as has been standard throughout this series, Washington took early control and had a 23-15 lead after one quarter. The Wizards extended the lead to 30-18 early in the second quarter before Chicago came back. A Taj Gibson dun sandwiched between two Kirk Hinrich three pointers cut the lead to 32-26, and jumpers by Gibson and D.J. Augustin narrowed the lead to 34-30 with 4:53 remaining in the half. The Bulls regained the lead on two Gibson free throws before the two teams ended the first half tied at 41.
The Wizards took the court in the third period and ramped up their defense. A layup by Nene and a driving dunk by Trevor Ariza gave Washington a 49-46 lead while they forced the Bulls into ugly turnovers. A Nene jump shot with 5:13 remaining gave the Wizards an eight-point lead and capped an 8-0 run. Washington headed into the fourth quarter with a 61-52 lead.
The Bulls mounted a modest 5-0 to start the fourth quarter before Washington responded. After a Hinrich jump shot made the score 65-59 Wizards both teams went into offensive droughts before a Hinrich trey cut the lead to three with 7:25 remaining. Washington guard John Wall responded with the three-point shot of his own and added a layup to extend the lead to 70-62 with 5:23 remaining. The Bulls chipped away and trailed by three again after a Carlos Boozer jump shot. But baskets were hard to come by the rest of the way and Chicago went scoreless the final 2:18 of the game while Washington hit their free throws.
Wall led all scorers with 24 points for Washington. Nene scored 20 and Bradley Beal added 17. The Bulls were led by Hinrich and Jimmy Butler with 16 points apiece. Gibson scored 12, Boozer scored 10 and Noah had eight points, 18 rebounds and seven assists. For this Chicago team it’s back to the drawing board. They overachieved immensely with a squad that lost Derrick Rose to a second knee injury and traded Luol Deng in midseason when it became apparent he would not re-sign with the team in the offseason.
Noah blossomed into an all-around player and his passing skills were the foundation for Chicago’s post-Deng surge, but Washington was able to cut off those passing lanes throughout their series. Other players like Gibson and Butler took steps forward this season while Thibodeau received above and beyond contributions from D.J. Augustin and Mike Dunleavy. But Carlos Boozer may have played his last game in a Bulls uniform as he will most likely be amnestied in the offseason to make way for a power forward who can complement Noah and, hopefully, become a prime target for passes from a returning Rose.