Bulls clinch 5 seed with 95-92 win over Washington
The Chicago Bulls came into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards with an almost-healthy lineup. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson coming off of injuries returned to the lineup a week ago and are getting used to the role they will be playing in the post season. The Bulls are getting their mojo back at the right time, and look to capture the five seed, instead of the six seed. If Chicago takes the six seed, they will play rival Indiana, a team much greater than four seed Brooklyn Nets. The Bulls own a tie breaker over the Atlanta Hawks who currently own the six seed the Bulls are trying to avoid. Chicago will leave everything on the court as they look to steam roll a weak Wizards team in the last game of the regular season.
The Bulls avoided any slow start as they coasted to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Bulls offensively in a groove and defensively they were doing a great job of contain rookie sensation John Wall. The quarter ended and Chicago held Washington to only 15 points. The Wizards had absolutely no low post scoring or rebounding. The Bulls offense was finally starting to click. Scoring 31 points as a unit but Kirk Hinrich lead all Chicago scorers with 10 points. The Bulls needed that first quarter as they were fantastic and looked like they could be a force down the road.
Washington’s bench took over in the beginning of the second quarter. Guard A.J Price was heating up cutting Chicago’s lead to 5. They used this 12-0 run and at the time they were out scoring the Bulls’ bench 18-4. All of Chicago’s momentum they created was suddenly erased after Price kept scorching Chicago. After a 16-0 run, Washington cut the lead to 1. The United Center was quiet as this soon to be blowout turned into a crazy first half comeback. As usual, The Bulls battled back. Nazr Muhammad lead Chicago’s offense with 13 points.The Bulls took a 52-47 lead into the half.
The second half started and Chicago put that bad quarter behind them. They extended their lead to 11 but coach Thibodeau had to take out Boozer and Muhammad who both picked up their fourth foul early in the third quarter. Kirk Hinrich was shaken up on two plays in the third. Kirk tried to run through a screen and has his shoulder clipped. He also used a pump fake which John Wall fell for and Wall went flying over Hinrich’s back. The Bulls can’t afford any more injuries heading into the post season. The Bulls kept grinding away at the Wizards weak post game and extended their lead, 74-68.
The Bulls were 12 minutes away from capturing the 5 seed they desperately need. The Bulls defense was spectacular all game and it was time for the offense to come up big. Chicago used the 3 point shooting of Nate Robinson early in the fourth quarter to keep distance from the Wizards. A.J Price kept his night rolling in the last minutes, as Washington wasn’t going to give up. Washington tied it up at 85 with 3 minutes ago. The game was tied for about 10 seconds and they never looked back. Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler were fantastic in the closing minutes. Luol Deng hit a clutch three pointer with a minute and a half remaining to put Chicago up 7. John Wall kept Washington in it hitting a pair of free throws and a three-ball. Kirk Hinrich’s defense was great in the final seconds, almost forcing two steals. With 10 seconds left and Washington down by 3, John Wall heaved up a prayer that fell short.
With this 95-92 win over Washington, the Chicago Bulls clinched the number 5 seed and will play the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs.