CHICAGO – John Wall finished with 24 points, Nene scored 20 and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 75-69 on Tuesday night to clinch their first-round Eastern Conference series in five games.
Bradley Beal scored 17 points, and the fifth-seeded Wizards advanced in the postseason for the third time since the 1970s. They will meet Indiana or Atlanta in the East semifinals.
It is a huge step for a franchise that hadn’t been to the postseason since 2008, but with Wall and Beal leading the way, the team won 44 games during the regular season.
The Wizards turned a halftime tie into a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and held on down the stretch.
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Chicago’s comeback chances took a major hit early in the final quarter when Taj Gibson fell to the court clutching his left ankle after he tried to block a layup by Wall with the Wizards up by six points. Gibson had to be helped off the court and did not return.
Furthermore, Joakim Noah of the Bulls limped his way through the final two quarters. He had six points, seven assists and 18 rebounds.
“Jo was laboring,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I couldn’t sub him in the second half. And then Taj going down was a big hit for us. It’s what we dealt with all year. I’m proud of the team. They gave us everything they had. There was nothing left.”
Grizzlies 100, at Thunder 99 (OT)
Mike Miller scored 21 points and Memphis held off Oklahoma City in a record fourth straight overtime game to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven West first-round series.
Oklahoma City was behind 100-99 and had the ball with 2.9 seconds remaining. Kevin Durant missed a three-point attempt and teammate Serge Ibaka tipped the ball in. But the tip came after the buzzer, ending the game.
Zach Randolph had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who will host Game 6 on Thursday.
Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder trailed by 20 points in the third quarter but led 79-78 after Durant’s three-pointer with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter.
• Dallas center DeJuan Blair has been suspended for Game 5 of the first-round West series against San Antonio on Wednesday for kicking the Spurs’ Tiago Splitter in the head during Game 4 Monday. The series is tied at 2.
Meanwhile, San Antonio guard Tony Parker has a sprained left ankle and is day to day.
• A former Golden State assistant coach reportedly recorded conversations of coaches and players without their knowledge before being fired by the team earlier this month.
ESPN, citing anonymous sources, reported Darren Erman secretly recorded coaches’ meetings, conversations between coaches and players and informal discussions. It is unclear what Erman did with the alleged recordings. The team fired Erman on April 5 for what it called a “violation of company policy.”
Erman is a scout for the Boston Celtics.