Final

Washington wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Washington wins series 4-2

Game 1: Sunday, April 24th
Wizards94Final
Bulls103
Game 2: Wednesday, April 27th
Wizards103Final
Bulls113
Game 3: Saturday, April 30th
Bulls99Final
Wizards117
Game 4: Monday, May 2nd
Bulls99Final
Wizards106
Game 5: Wednesday, May 4th
Wizards112Final
Bulls110
Game 6: Friday, May 6th
Bulls91Final
Wizards94

Wizards 94

(45-37, 16-25 away)

Bulls 103

(47-35, 27-14 home)

Coverage: CSNC

4:30 PM ET, April 24, 2005

United Center, Chicago, IL

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 26 26 30 1294
CHI 24 29 24 26103

Top Performers

WSH: L. Hughes 31 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Chi: A. Nocioni 25 Pts, 18 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk

Rookie puts up 30 points in victory

CHICAGO (AP) -- If rookies Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni can put on this kind of show in their first NBA playoff game, imagine what's in store down the road.

Gordon scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and Nocioni added 25 points and 18 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 103-94 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. It was Chicago's first playoff victory since the dynasty days.

"This is great for the franchise," Gordon said. "We haven't been here in so long."

The playoffs could be regular event again in Chicago if Gordon keeps playing this way. The third overall pick in last summer's draft has reached double figures in the fourth quarter 22 times this season, but none was bigger than this show.

Already hampered without ailing starters Eddy Curry and Luol Deng, the Bulls looked like they might come up short with Tyson Chandler in foul trouble and Gilbert Arenas hitting some clutch shots late. But just as he's done all season, Gordon was there to carry the Bulls.

"We're riding Ben like we always do," said Kirk Hinrich, who finished with 17 points on a rough shooting night.

Gordon's late-game heroics have many in the city calling him the next Michael Jordan, as in, "Gordon, rhymes with Jordan." He shies away from the comparisons, but it's hard to argue with the numbers.

Trailing 82-77 going into the fourth, Gordon scored 10 points as the Bulls opened with a 13-4 run. He got it started with a pair of free throws after getting fouled by Anthony Peeler, then followed with a jumper from the top of the key. On the other end of the floor, Chris Duhon poked the ball away from Juan Dixon and took it in for a fast-break layup, cutting Washington's lead to 84-83 with 8:42 to play.

After a timeout, Nocioni tied the game on a free throw, and Gordon hit a 3 to put Chicago ahead for good, 87-84, with 8:18 to play. He pushed the lead to 90-86, making all three shots when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Larry Hughes.

Gordon also had a scoring tear in the second quarter. He made four straight baskets, scoring 10 points in a span of just 3:16.

The loss spoiled a superb night by Hughes, who scored 24 of his 31 points in the first half on 10-of-12 shooting. But the Wizards got little from the rest of their Big Three. Arenas scored nine points -- 16 below his average -- on 3-of-19 shooting, and Jamison had 14 points.

"Me and Antawn can't go, what, 7-for-40 and not expect a loss," said Arenas, who had eight assists. "But it's one game. It's the playoffs. You get seven games and keep playing the whole time.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Chicago.

"We played a great game, but it's just one game," Nocioni said. "I need to forgot this game and think (about) the next game."

Still, considering how dismal the last seven years have been, the Bulls can be excused if they savor this one.

This is Chicago's first playoff appearance since Jordan's Bulls won their sixth title in 1998, a drought as horrid as it was long. Chicago lost 341 games from 1999-2004, going through countless players and almost as many rebuilding plans.

They made a remarkable turnaround this year, and it looked almost like the good old days at the United Center. The Bulls even broke out black shoes for the first time this season. Black shoes were an unofficial part of the playoff uniform in the dynasty days, and the current group wasn't about to mess with the tradition.

The Wizards made an impressive turnaround of their own, making their first playoff appearance since the 1996-97 season. Much of the credit goes to Arenas, Hughes and Jamison, who were the most prolific scoring trio in the NBA this year at 67 points a game.

But the Big Three was down to the Big One in the first half. Arenas, who came into the game averaging 25.5 points, was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. Jamison had three on 1-of-8 shooting.

Fortunately for the Wizards, Hughes was there to pick up the slack. He topped his previous career high for a playoff game in the first half and was a perfect 6-for-6 in the second quarter.

"In the first half, it felt good for me," Hughes said. "Our two main scorers were not really rolling yet. I tried to be aggressive and take my shot. Until they got into the game, I tried to hold the Bulls off."

Arenas and Jamison finally got on track in the second half. Arenas made his first basket 45 seconds into the third quarter, and he and Jamison finished off a 10-0 run with back-to-back 3s that gave Washington a 67-60 lead -- its largest of the game -- with 7:24 left in the quarter.

But they couldn't keep the momentum going.

"Offensively, it just wasn't going our way," Jamison said. "We're not jumping off the deep end yet."

Game notes


Nocioni's 18 rebounds was the most by a rookie in a playoff game. ... Hughes' previous career high for a playoff game was 14, against Orlando in 1999 when he was with Philadelphia. ... Kwame Brown left the game in the final minute with a bruised right knee. He'll be re-examined Monday and hopes to play Wednesday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
WSH
CHI
Points 94 103
FGM-FGA 33-86 (.384) 40-94 (.426)
3PM-3PA 5-19 (.263) 7-22 (.318)
FTM-FTA 23-33 (.697) 16-26 (.615)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-44 16-54
Assists 16 27
Turnovers 12 9
Steals 4 6
Blocks 8 10
Fast Break Points 14 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (1/0) 26 (1/0)
Largest Lead 7 9

Top Performers

Washington
Chicago
Larry Hughes Hughes
Points: 31
Reb: 5
Ast: 1
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Andres Nocioni Nocioni
Points: 25
Reb: 18
Ast: 4
Stl: 0
Blk: 1