WASHINGTON – The forgotten man in Games 1 and 2, Mike Dunleavy nearly had the best scoring game of his career.
Dunleavy scored 35 points, one short of his career-high, and Jimmy Butler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining as the Chicago Bulls hung on Friday night for a 100-97 win over the Washington Wizards, trimming the deficit to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference first round series.
Dunleavy made a career-high eight 3-pointers on 10 attempts, and the Bulls went 12 for 24 beyond the arc. After Butler’s final 3, the teams traded fouls and free throws. 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 teammate John Wall.
Game 4 is Sunday in Washington. The Bulls are attempting to become only the fourth NBA team to win a seven-game series after losing the first two at home.
Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards. Wall had 23 points and seven assists.
Dunleavy scored 20 points combined in the first two games, but he passed that total early in the second half. His four-point play in the third quarter — completed after he was clobbered by Beal outside the arc — helped steady the Bulls in a game in which neither team led by double digits.
Beal had reason to be frustrated. During a walkoff interview with CSN at halftime, the Wizards guard guaranteed Dunleavy wouldn’t score in the second half.
The game was played at the Wizards’ faster pace, yet retained much of the physical play preferred by the Bulls. The chippiness evident in the games at Chicago resurfaced in the fourth quarter when Nene and Butler went forehead-to-forehead, with the Wizards forward grabbing Butler by the back of the neck and the side of the head.
Both were assessed with techncials, and Nene was ejected with 8:28 to play.
It had been six years since the Wizards hosted a playoff game, and, for a while, Wall appeared to embody the pent-up energy all by himself. He completely dusted Kirk Hinrich with a stutter move at the free-throw line and drove for a layup, capped a fast break with a windmill slam and performed a 360 move that was so breathtaking it almost didn’t matter that he missed the layup.
Dunleavy was on target Friday night from the get-go. He slammed his hands on the floor in frustration after he didn’t get the ball from Butler for an open 3-pointer early in the first quarter, but his teammates had no trouble finding him after that.
Dunleavy scored 10 of the Bulls’ first 14 points and was 6 for 8 from the field with 16 points at halftime. The Wizards were so intent on guarding him at the arc that he was able to pump fake a 3, then drive to the lane for a three-point play.
Neither team was about to let the other pull away. Dunleavy hit another 3 to start the fourth quarter, part of his six points in a 9-0 run that gave the Bulls a seven-point lead, but the Wizards kept responding.
Wall, however, missed two free throws with 1:27 to play and the score tied. The next score was the 3-pointer from Butler.
Notes: After a plea from owner Ted Leonsis to show up on time, the Wizards fans did a better job getting to the arena for the opening tip, although there were still sections with plenty of empty seats. Fans were given red, white or blue T-shirts, and Leonsis did his part by showing up in a blue coat, red sweater and white shirt. … Bulls C Joakim Noah got into a confrontation with a Wizards security official during the Bulls’ shootaround Friday morning. Washington coach Randy Wittman said his team was to blame. “That’s got to be something from our side that shouldn’t happen,” the coach said.