The Washington Wizards went into The United Center Tuesday, played their opponents' kind of game, and emerged with a first-round upset over the Chicago Bulls. The Wizards won Game 5 by a final score of 75-69, and won the series convincingly, 4-1.
They proved capable of winning playoff-style basketball, as the game slowed down dramatically, and defense and rebounding came to the forefront.
Washington still got offense in spurts, thanks in large part to its explosive young point guard John Wall. He led the team with 24 points and made several big plays down the stretch.
Nene Hilario played well in his return from suspension, pouring in 20 points, mostly on mid-range jumpers that dragged Joakim Noah away from the paint.
For the Bulls, they were haunted, and ultimately knocked out, by their extreme inability to score. They mustered just 69 points in an elimination game.
Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler scored 16 points a piece, and Noah collected 18 rebounds to go along with seven assists.
Key Player Grades: Washington Wizards
John Wall, Point Guard
His shot may not have been terribly consistent, but the explosiveness and athleticism of Wall caused problems for the Bulls all game.
He hit 7-of-19 from the field, but still scored 24 points because of his ability to beat his matchup off the dribble and get to the free-throw line, where he went 9-of-11. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.
All series, the Bulls simply had no one who could contain the Wizards point guard.
Bradley Beal, Shooting Guard
The other half of Washington's dynamic young backcourt was steady throughout, as Beal went 6-of-13 from the field for 17 points.
Beal's sweet shooting stroke provides the perfect counterweight to Wall's penetration. His ability to command attention around the three-point line opens up driving lanes for Wall.
The Bulls vaunted defense was unable to adjust to the inside-out attack of "Splash and Dash" in Game 5, as Wall and Beal carried the Wizards to the first-round upset.
Trevor Ariza, Small Forward
Ariza made a big impact earlier in the series as a scorer, but looked more like the player who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win an NBA title in 2009 on Tuesday.
He scored only six points on 3-of-8 shooting, but still made an impact on the game as a defender and rebounder.
He finished the game with nine boards and was a huge factor in Mike Dunleavy shooting just 2-of-8 from the field for the Bulls
Nene, Power Forward/Center
In a typically Eastern Conference game marked by stingy defense and a plodding pace, Nene still managed to post a very efficient offensive performance.
He was one of just two players on either team to shoot over 50 percent from the field, as he hit 10-of-17 attempts.
His solid mid-range game forced Noah to play him outside the paint, which opened up offensive rebounding opportunities for the rest of the team. The Wizards would finish the game with 13 boards on that end.
Marcin Gortat, Center/Power Forward
He struggled mightily on offense, but like Ariza, Gortat still contributed to the Wizards win by showing up in the other two-thirds of the game.
His team-high 13 boards and three blocks offset the fact that he only managed two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Trevor Booker, Power Forward
Booker provided a ton of energy off the bench for the Wizards, earning the praise of TNT analyst Steve Kerr whenever he was on the floor.
In 24 minutes, he grabbed seven rebounds and tied Gortat for the team lead in blocks with three. Most of those plays were a result of Booker's willingness to fly around with relentless energy.
Only two other Wizards got any real time off Washington's bench. Andre Miller played nine minutes. Martell Webster got 16.
The two combined to go 0-of-5 from the field for zero points.
Key Player Grades: Chicago Bulls
Joakim Noah, Center
As was the case all season, Joakim Noah gave everything he had Tuesday. That energy helped the Bulls to stay close despite having few weapons to speak of.
His 18 points and seven assists were both game highs, and he also contributed three blocks.
Offensively, Noah scored just six points on 3-of-8 shooting, but his impact has never been measured in points.
Kirk Hinrich, Point Guard
Hinrich was the only player besides Nene to hit at least half his shots on Tuesday. He went 6-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.
He struggled to stay in front of Wall, though, and fouled out of the game while trying to keep up with him.
Jimmy Butler, Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Butler was the other scoring threat for the Bulls, as he managed to knock down a few jump shots on the way to a 6-of-15 performance.
He still took too many long jumpers, which often caromed out to guards, giving Washington natural breaks the other way.
He also had the responsibility of covering Beal. He wasn't terrible in that respect but also didn't make a noticeable impact on that end.
Mike Dunleavy, Small Forward
The clear hero in Chicago's only win in this series was Dunleavy. The Bulls needed another contribution from him on Tuesday, and they simply didn't get it.
He went 2-of-8 from the field and scored just five points in 33 minutes.
Carlos Boozer, Power Forward
A tough season for Boozer came to an unceremonious end Tuesday.
Chicago's starting power forward, who's played fewer minutes than his backup, finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go along with nine rebounds.
He gave up two critical offensive rebounds down the stretch to Gortat after he entered for the injured Taj Gibson.
Taj Gibson, Power Forward/Center
Gibson was probably Chicago's best player in this series, and when he went down with a second-half ankle injury, things suddenly looked very bleak for the Bulls.
He played just 25 minutes, but still managed to score 12 points and block three shots.
D.J. Augustin was the only other reserve to get much time. He was a huge offensive spark for the Bulls since the day he was signed but failed to provide that Tuesday.
In 23 minutes, he shot 1-of-10 from the field on the way to just four points.
The Wizards now await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers series. They have to like their chances against either team, as the Hawks won just 38 games in the regular season and the Pacers have been a mess in recent weeks.
The Bulls, meanwhile, are now finished with their injury-riddled 2013-24 campaign.
They'll spend the offseason trying to get healthy and improve through free agency.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.
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