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 series in five games.
Bradley Beal scored 17 points, and the fifth-seeded Wizards advanced in the postseason for just the third time since the 1970s. They will meet Indiana or Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It’s a huge step for a franchise that hadn’t been to the postseason since 2008, but with Wall and Beal leading the way, they won 44 games during the regular season.
The Wizards turned a halftime tie into a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and hung on down the stretch.
Chicago’s comeback chances took a big hit early in the final quarter when Taj Gibson crumbled to the court clutching his left ankle after he tried to block a layup by Wall with the Wizards up by six points. He had to be helped off the court and did not return.
The Bulls cut it to 70-67 on a jumper by Carlos Boozer with 3:32 left. Wall then poked the ball away from Boozer and nailed a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer. Chicago hit two free throws with 2:18 remaining to cut it back down to three, but the Wizards grabbed three offensive rebounds while whittling more than a minute off the clock before Beal threw the ball away with a minute left in the game.
Boozer missed on a drive, but the Bulls had another chance after a shot-clock violation by Washington with 22.4 seconds left. Chicago’s Jimmy Butler missed on a layup off the inbounds, and the Wizards caught a break after Andre Miller missed two free throws.
Beal tracked down the loose ball and hit the first free throw to make it 73-69 with 14.6 seconds left before missing the second. But again, the Wizards got the rebound.
GRIZZLIES 100, THUNDER 99, OT: In Oklahoma City, Mike Miller scored 21 points and the Memphis Grizzlies held off the Oklahoma City Thunder in a record fourth straight overtime game Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
Oklahoma City rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by Miller and called a timeout, trailing 100-99 with 2.9 seconds remaining. Kevin Durant of the Thunder missed a long 3-point attempt and teammate Serge Ibaka tipped the ball in on the rebound. The shot was reviewed and it was determined that it was released after the buzzer, ending the game.
Zach Randolph added 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 the Thunder.