CHICAGO, April 27 (Ticker) -- Kirk Hinrich
no longer is the overlooked
guard in this series.
Hinrich had a pair of outbursts and scored a career-high 34
points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 113-103 victory over the
Washington Wizards and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference
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The fourth-seeded Bulls stormed back from an early 13-point
deficit to open a 20-point lead before holding off the
fifth-seeded Wizards, who don't seem to understand the sense of
importance of the postseason.
Entering this series, much was made of Bulls guard Ben Gordon
whose fourth-quarter explosions have made him a favorite for
Rookie of the Year, and the Wizards' quick backcourt of All-Star
Gilbert Arenas and NBA steals leader Larry Hughes
, who carried
the team all season.
That left Hinrich as the forgotten guard in this series. But
Hinrich scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, including 10 in
just over two minutes that took the lead from 81-70 to 93-73
with 9:21 to go.
"I was feeling good, definitely," Hinrich said. "I felt every
time I shot it, it was going to go in. I had good rhythm and the
ball just seemed to find me in good position so I was able to
knock my shots down."
"Hinrich was unbelievable," Arenas said. "In the second half, I
don't think he even missed a shot."
Down the stretch, Hinrich simply was unstoppable. When the
Wizards closed to 95-84, he made a jumper and free throw to
rebuild the lead to 14 points. He sank a 3-pointer to keep the
advantage at 101-87 with 4:13 to play.
"He had a phenomenal second half," Bulls coach Scott Skiles
said. "He hit shots and made plays. I have not seen him shoot
that well in that long of a stretch he was really feeling it
And when Arenas drilled a 3-pointer to make it 107-101 with 1:30
left, Hinrich made another 3-pointer and two foul shots for a
112-101 bulge in the final minute.
In just 24 minutes, Hinrich made 12-of-15 shots, including
5-of-5 3-pointers. There's no telling how many points he would
have scored had he not spent most of the first half on the bench
with foul trouble.
"I felt Kirk early in the game was a little bit off and he got
into a little foul trouble as well," Skiles said.
scored 18 points and Gordon added 14 for the
Bulls, who have won all 28 series in which they have held home-court
advantage. Their ability to win on the road will be put to the
test in Games Three and Four in Washington on Saturday and
Arenas scored 39 points, Hughes added 19 and 10 rebounds and
18 for the Wizards, who gave away a 13-point lead
in less than 10 minutes, committed 18 turnovers and played with
very little intensity on defense.
"We had some some reckless stretches of basketball and we are
certainly inexperienced in the playoffs," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan
said. "Hopefully that will solve itself at home."
Washington bolted to a 23-10 lead as Arenas scored 11 points -
two more than he had Sunday - and Hinrich took a seat with two
fouls. But Chicago fought back behind deep reserves
and Adrian Griffin
and tied it at 35-35 on a dunk by
with 7:34 left in the first half.
"We got to far ahead of ourselves," Jordan said. "We got the
lead and then our role players were not able to hold on to it.
I guess they didn't expect the Bulls to make shots."
"Our bench has been huge for us all year," Hinrich said. "It
seems like somebody else steps up all the time. It says a lot
about the character of our players."
Hinrich returned three minutes later and scored nine points in
87 seconds to give the Bulls a 51-48 lead before sitting with
his third foul. Chicago never trailed thereafter.
"Kirk was kind of hiding in the weeds," Bulls center Antonio
Davis said. "He had a rough first half. I think they prepared
a little too much for Ben Gordon and Nocioni and forgot about
what Kirk could do."