Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/4

Game 1: Saturday, December 4th
Game 2: Friday, February 25th
Game 3: Wednesday, April 13th

Bulls 82

(44-34, 19-20 away)

Wizards 93

(43-35, 27-12 home)

Coverage: WCIU

8:00 PM ET, April 13, 2005

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 12 23 21 2682
WSH 28 20 29 1693

Top Performers

Chi: K. Hinrich 21 Pts, 6 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

WSH: L. Hughes 23 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Chandler ejected; Washington gains tiebreaker vs. Bulls

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Blue and white confetti fell from the rafters. The team owner gave a teary-eyed speech in the locker room. T-shirts were quickly distributed with the words: "One team. One goal. Washington Wizards playoffs."

The Wizards are returning to the postseason for the first time since 1997, securing their spot Wednesday night following a 93-82 victory over the short-handed Chicago Bulls.

The victory came just minutes before Indiana finished a 90-86 victory over the New Jersey Nets, giving the Wizards the combination they needed to clinch with a week to play in the regular season. Washington's players remained on the court after their game to watch the Nets-Pacers conclusion, which was broadcast on the MCI Center's huge scoreboard.

The victory came one day before the end of another great sports drought in Washington. The Nationals will host Arizona on Thursday in the city's first regular-season baseball game in 34 years.

"It's a wonderful day for the franchise," said coach Eddie Jordan, who led the turnaround from a 25-57 season a year ago. "It's a wonderful day for the city. I'm a fan as much as I am a coach. I'm happy for our city."

Afterward, owner Abe Pollin met with the players to offer his congratulations. Pollin has been belittled for promising the playoffs nearly every season, and this time his team delivered.

"He wanted to cry," point guard Gilbert Arenas said. "You see it in him. I know he's happy, especially from all the hits he's been going through the last few years."

Larry Hughes scored 23 points, Arenas added 21, and Antawn Jamison had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Wizards raced to a 22-point first-quarter lead and never trailed against the team they could meet in the first round. Chicago, Indiana and Washington are vying for seeds four, five and six in the Eastern Conference.

The victory gave the Wizards a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Bulls, a stat that would determine home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs if the two teams finish tied for fourth.

Coincidentally, Chicago was the last team the Bullets -- as the Wizards were called back then -- faced in the playoffs. The Michael Jordan-led Bulls swept Washington in the first round eight years ago, keeping the Wizards winless in the playoffs since 1988.

Wizards starting center Brendan Haywood, activated before the game after missing 10 games with a broken thumb, finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich scored 21 points apiece to lead the Bulls, who played without leading scorer Eddy Curry (irregular heartbeat), Andrews Nocioni (suspended) and, for most of the game, Tyson Chandler. Chandler was ejected with 3:29 left in the first quarter for stepping on Haywood's midsection after pushing Haywood to the floor going for a rebound. Adrian Griffin got his first start of the season as coach Scott Skiles used his 13th lineup.

"It was bad from the start," Chandler said. "Losing Nocioni only added onto the players that we've lost. And then myself getting kicked out in the first quarter, we were kind of doomed after that."

Asked about his ejection, Chandler pleaded guilty to fouling Haywood, but said he was doing his best to avoid stepping on the Wizards center.

"I wouldn't step on the dude," Chandler said. "I wasn't trying to step on the dude."

Washington raced to a 28-6 lead by running the floor and dominating the boards. Chicago shot 4-for-23 from the floor in the first quarter. Hughes' running shot from midcourt put the Wizards ahead 48-35 at the break, and they led by double digits the rest of the way.

"We've still got a lot of things we want to accomplish," Jamison said. "But we finally get this one off our back and can concentrate on making some noise in the playoffs."

Game notes

Curry has been sidelined since March 28 with his medical problem and did not accompany the team to Washington. Curry met with doctors in Minnesota on Tuesday, but Skiles did not have an update. He has been evaluated by specialists in three cities. ... Bulls coach Skiles on Nocioni's suspension: "I'm not real happy with it. I didn't think it warranted that, but I didn't get a vote." ... Arenas went back to his usual ways, going 8-for-20 from the field after a mini-shooting boycott during Monday's game against Milwaukee. Arenas had just eight points and a season-high 13 assists against the Bucks because he said he wanted to lift the play of his teammates to his own level. ... The Wizards have won eight straight over Chicago at home. ...To make room for Haywood, the Wizards placed Peter John Ramos on the injured list with left knee tendinitis.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 82 93
FGM-FGA 32-95 (.337) 36-87 (.414)
3PM-3PA 6-21 (.286) 6-16 (.375)
FTM-FTA 12-18 (.667) 15-26 (.577)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-48 14-64
Assists 17 16
Turnovers 13 19
Steals 9 7
Blocks 0 10
Fast Break Points 11 20
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 23

Top Performers

Kirk Hinrich Hinrich
Points: 21
Reb: 6
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Larry Hughes Hughes
Points: 23
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1