Game 2 of the seven-game series between the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls is in the books. Here’s what played into the final result:
WHAT HAPPENED: After squandering an early lead, the Wizards clawed back behind Bradley Beal’s 26 points and seven rebounds to pull out a 101-99 overtime win and go up 2-0 on Chicago in the series.
WHAT WENT WELL FOR THE WIZARDS: Bradley Beal and John Wall’s playoff jitters appear to be behind them, as they scored 26 and 16 points, respectively. Beal was especially impressive, scoring nine of the team’s final 11 points in regulation to force overtime. From there, Nene came alive, scoring six points in overtime to give Washington enough cushion for the win. Though the Wizards trailed for most of the second half, they showed resolve by hitting several shots that kept the Bulls from completely running away with the game. Contributions from the likes of Martell Webster (10 points) and Trevor Booker (eight rebounds) helped Washington make up for quiet nights from Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat. In a game that was played mostly at Chicago’s preferred deliberate pace, the Wizards displayed a brand of physical and tough play while continuing their solid shooting (47.5 percent from the field).
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE WIZARDS: With two scuffles and heightened physical play leading the referees to call a tighter second half, John Wall picked up four fouls in the third quarter alone. Without Wall to increase the pace, the Bulls were able to continue their deliberate play and as a result, Taj Gibson (22 points) continued to have his way on the boards (10 rebounds, nine offensive), helping the Bulls hold a 16-point advantage in the paint at one point. Nene then picked up his fourth foul in the final period but remained in the game until drawing his fifth foul due to the struggles of Gortat, who didn’t play at all down the stretch. While the Wizards racked up fouls on defense, they squandered opportunities at the foul line on offense, shooting just 16 for 28, including just 9 for 20 in the second half. Though he wore down in overtime, D.J. Augustin was a problem for the Wizards, scoring a team-high 25 points off the bench to provide a high-speed complement to his slower teammates. Wall and Beal will need to clamp down more defensively.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN GAME 3: More seemed to go wrong than right in this one. As the Wizards know all too well, perimeter shooting comes and goes. Once Washington cooled off from its hot start, the Bulls were able to claw back into the game with their interior play. The improved offensive effort by Wall and Beal were good, but it’s clear the Wizards need consistently strong outputs from their bigs to keep the Bulls at bay for the course of a 48-minute game. However long this series goes, every game will be decided late, meaning the Wizards can’t afford to keep leaving points at the foul line. But the Wizards, who have been dogged by inconsistency all season but have grown up dramatically in the last two weeks, showed fortitude by grinding out the win in overtime after squandering a 17-point lead and erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Verizon Center should be rocking on Friday for Game 3.