We can definitely say that this series against the Bulls is amounting to a war of physical attrition with each team battling at the end to the finish. Tonight was no exception as Bulls Forward Mike Dunleavy was on fire and Wizards Center NENE was ejected for a scrum with Bulls Forward Jimmy Butler.
Dunleavy who finished the night with 35 points to pace the Bulls, hit on 8 three pointers for the night. His previous playoff high was 3 and a total of 17 points. After the game, Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau praised the play of Dunleavy.
“Mike’s been around a long time. He’s had a terrific career. He’s a great pro. Sometimes people forget how good he is and probably the only thing that was slowing him down were injuries. One year in Indiana he averaged 19 points a game, so he’s a good player. He’s been relatively healthy and he does whatever you ask him to do to help the team win. You can start him, bring him off the bench. You can play him big minutes, short minutes. He just goes out there and he does his job. He can really pass the ball, he can really shoot the ball, but he does a lot of other things as well. He screens well, his team defense is very good.”
“We’ve got to get Sunday, for sure,” Dunleavy said. “No question. It’s a quick turnaround, one o’clock start. We put ourselves in a hole, we’re starting to dig ourselves out, but we’re not near there yet.”
The turning play came in the fourth quarter when NENE and Butler became engaged in what would have been a little more than a shoving match, in where he should have walked away, but engaged in a hand head lock of sorts that would cost the Wizards their center the final 8:00 of the game and possibly changed the entire outcome of the game.
“It looked like an MMA move to me,” Dunleavy said. “It was one of those headlocks. It was great that Jimmy kept his cool. I think a lot of people put in that situation would’ve started throwing blows.”
After Butler’s final 3, the teams traded fouls and free throws over the final two dozen seconds. Washington had a chance to tie when Taj Gibson missed a free throw with 3.1 seconds to play, but Trevor Ariza threw the ball out of bounds after grabbing the rebound in a miscommunication with Wall.
The Wizards became the 20th team in NBA history to win the first 2 games of a best-of-7 series on the road. 16 of the previous 19 teams went on to win the series.