It looked for a while in the 2nd half that this would be an equalizing game in this series for the Bulls. They had gotten themselves into a huge 1st half hole, 17 points at its worst, but had climbed back out of it behind huge nights from DJ Augustin and Taj Gibson off the bench. It was looking like the type of game the Bulls had won many times before, fed by desperation and using physicality (to put it mildly) to force the Wizards into an eventual submission.
However it may have been too much to both re-take that lead and hold the Wizards off, as they both opened and closed the games fantastically. A lot of the advantages they showed in game 1 were still there, and their young backcourt of Wall and Beal had much better nights. While they were the ones showing poise late, the Bulls saw their own 10-point lead evaporate, missing their last 5 shots in regulation in a 14-4 run for the Wizards. Washington actually had a chance to win the game in regulation, but a tough Bradley Beal baseline jumper served as a reprieve.
Unfortunately, OT didn't go much better. Bulls missed their first seven shots in the extra period, with two turnovers. They did manage to almost come back after spotting the Wiz a 6-point lead, but with under 3 seconds remaining Kirk Hinrich was fouled with the Bulls down two and missed the first FT. He then intentionally missed the second to give the Bulls a prayer of a chance but it was too late.
In the final 12:16 spanning 4th quarter and overtime, the Bulls only made 4 field goals. That final stretch was a lot of what we saw in the first game: the Bulls lack of shot creators compounded by tired legs on jump shots. It was emblematic of their team to see brick after brick followed by them fighting like hell for an offensive rebound. Thibs went with his guys to the extreme: Butler played all 53 minutes, followed by Noah with nearly 46 and Augustin with over 40. It's a strategy (along with lockdown defense) that had worked many times in the regular season, but has come up short in the first two games of the playoffs.
We'll have a lot over the next several days, including a more substantial recap of this pretty insane game two. Easy to already start the big-picture analysis of what an early playoff exit means for this roster, but there is still a lot of series to go. If these games have shown anything, it's that these teams are indeed pretty close. Unfortunately it's also shown the Bulls can't win these close games.