Bulls try to pull even with Wizards

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm •  Published: April 21, 2014
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DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bulls' resolve is being tested once again.

They trail the Washington Wizards 1-0 in their first-round playoff series after blowing a 13-point lead in the opener and will try to pull even on Tuesday.

"You look at how they played down the stretch, you know how good they are," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Despite losing Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and trading Luol Deng, no team in the Eastern Conference won more games after New Year's Eve than Chicago. But Thibodeau wasn't talking about the Bulls. He was referring to the Wizards, who hadn't been to the playoffs since 2008.

The fifth-seeded Wizards rallied from 13 down to beat Chicago 102-93, and they might have opened a few eyes in the process.

"I think we can surprise a lot of teams, if you play the right way," Nene said.

Here are five things to look for heading into Game 2 of this best-of-7 series.

STOPPING NENE: Put simply, the Bulls didn't do that. The Wizards' big man dominated inside with 24 points and eight rebounds, and he seemed just fine after missing 21 games late in the season because of a sprained left knee.

"He's as strong as they come down there on the block," Chicago's Mike Dunleavy Jr. said. "And he's long, too. Presents a lot of problems."

SWITCH IT UP? The Bulls struggled down the stretch in Game 1, getting outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter. So are rotation changes coming? Thibodeau wouldn't say.

"We'll see," he said.

One option if he's looking to jolt the offense could be Dunleavy, who played the first 3:21 in the fourth before being lifted for Kirk Hinrich. Another possibility would be going with Carlos Boozer, although he rarely plays in the final period.

IN NEED OF ASSISTS: The Bulls managed just 13 assists in Sunday's game, just two off their season-low, and don't think Thibodeau didn't notice that. Sure, Chicago shot a low percentage (42 percent overall, 5 of 20 3-pointers). The game was called tight, too, with 26 free throws for the Bulls and 35 for the Wizards. "You're not going to get assists on things like that, but 13 is a very low number," Thibodeau said.

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