Even though the Chicago Bulls entered the postseason as one of the league’s better rebounding teams, the Wizards’ advantage on the boards late Sunday was one of the bigger reasons why they emerged with a 102-93 victory in Game 1 of the teams’ first-round playoff series.
The Wizards snagged 13 rebounds in the fourth quarter, while the Bulls grabbed only six. Chicago made just two of 10 shots in the final five minutes and only twice reeled in an offensive rebound – one of which was by D.J. Augustin, who grabbed his own rebound after his shot was blocked by Trevor Ariza.
Overall, Washington took the rebounding battle, 45-39.
“We talk about fundamentals, you know?” said Nenê, who had eight rebounds. “Other players need to box out, and then the rebound, we choose who’s supposed to grab. That’s what happened tonight. We did a lot of mistake about our box out. That’s the reason they come back in the game. But we fix it up in the second half. It was a good game.”
The Bulls had a decided 13-8 rebounding advantage in the second quarter, when they used a 12-4 run late in the quarter to take a 54-48 halftime lead. Otherwise, the Wizards had the edge on the boards in each of the other three quarters.
Seven of the Wizards’ 13 rebounds came after they reclaimed the lead with 4:17 to play on a pair of free throws by Ariza. Two were offensive rebounds that proved crucial in the Wizards maintaining the late lead and the victory: One in which the Bulls tipped the ball out of bounds following a missed jumper by Bradley Beal with 1:51 to play, and the other a snag by Marcin Gortat with 34.2 seconds remaining after John Wall missed a long jumper.
“We can’t let them get as many offensive rebounds,” said Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, who had seven rebounds on the night. “We need to get back on defense better as well. All our mistakes that we made [Sunday night] are correctable. We’ve already started to talk about that.”
Bulls center Joakim Noah, who ranked fourth in the league with 11.3 rebounds per game during the regular season, was held to 10. Forward Carlos Boozer had nine rebounds, but did not play in the fourth quarter; his replacement in the lineup, Taj Gibson, had six rebounds, but just one in the final 12 minutes.
Noah, who is among the frontrunners to be named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, had at least 10 rebounds in each of his final nine regular-season games.
“At the end, he’s going to get 10 points, 10 rebounds,” Gortat said. “He’s on the [court] for 40 minutes. I mean, he’s a very good player, and he’s going to score and rebound the ball. We’ve got to make sure that he’s going to earn that. He’s not going to get it easy. I think we did a pretty good job. “