Wizards cast spell on sluggish Bulls, take win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Big Three plus the Poetic One equaled the Washington Wizards' first playoff victory in 17 years.

Etan Thomas, leading a Washington big-man attack notably absent in the first two games, scored 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds, and, along with fellow reserve Michael Ruffin, started a second-half rout with a big third-quarter run in Saturday's 117-99 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The win was the first in the postseason for the Wizards since May 8, 1988, when they beat Detroit 106-103 in Game 4 of a first-round series.

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Of immediate concern for the Wizards is that they cut the Bulls' series lead to 2-1, with Game 4 in Washington on Monday.

The Big Three of Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Antawn Jamison played their parts, but the trio that accounted for 66 percent of the scoring in Games 1 and 2 gained inspiration from unsung front court players Thomas, Ruffin and Brendan Haywood.

Arenas finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Hughes had 21 points and seven rebounds, and Jamison had 21 points and eight rebounds - but Ruffin chipped in a season-high nine points, and Haywood had eight points and nine rebounds.

Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead six players in double figures for the Bulls, who didn't get the type of heroic game that led them to victories in the first two games.

Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni seemed unstoppable in Game 1, and Kirk Hinrich made nearly everything he shot in Game 2.