CHICAGO (AP)—Two first-quarter fouls and ineffective play got Kirk Hinrich an early trip to the Chicago bench. Not a place to be during the playoffs for a starting guard.
So when he returned to the floor Wednesday night, Hinrich was more than ready to play and determined to make up for a sluggish start.
Hinrich scored 21 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, sending the Bulls to a 113-103 win over the Washington Wizards and giving them a 2-0 lead in the opening series.
Games 3 and 4 are in Washington on Saturday and Monday.
“I took a lot of time to think about it. I didn’t get off to a good start. I couldn’t get in a rhythm early,” said Hinrich. “I wanted to make things happen. I still thought I could have a positive effect on the game, that’s what I tried to do.”
And after a scoreless, six-minute first-quarter, Hinrich’s game blossomed.
Rebounding from a tough 8-for-23 shooting night in Chicago’s 103-94 win in the opener Sunday night, he hit 12 of 15 shots and spearheading key runs at the end of the first half and beginning of the final quarter.
He was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers, making all four he attempted in the fourth.
“I felt every time I shot it that it would go in,” Hinrich said. “I took good shots in rhythm and the ball seemed to find me in a good position.”
Gilbert Arenas, held to nine points in the opener, picked up his game dramatically. He scored 39—16 in the final period—and helped the Wizards rally in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
Arenas, who shot 14-for-25, hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to cut the deficit to six, but Hinrich stepped up, answering with a 3 and then two free throws to preserve the victory.
“Hinrich got open with his dribble and made shots off the dribble, which is hard to do,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “He just found a groove. He was really going.”
“Hinrich shot the ball well. We weren’t really on the same page of what we wanted to do,” Hughes said. “He had the hot hand and the smart thing to do was to get the ball out of his hands and make him make a play by passing the ball.”
Hinrich stunned the Wizards by scoring 10 points in the first 2:40 of the final quarter, hitting two 3-pointers, a jumper and a layup in a 12-3 surge that gave the Bulls a 93-73 lead.
Then he warded off any Wizards comeback with his uncanny shooting, making 7-of-8 in the final quarter.
“They hit unbelievable shots,” Arenas said. “Kirk Hinrich, I don’t even know if he missed a shot in the second half. We went on a run and he broke our backs with a 3-pointer every time.”
Arenas, who shot just 3-for-19 in Game 1, had 13 points at the end of the first quarter Wednesday night as the Wizards led by as many as 13.
But Jannero Pargo, who came off the bench with Chicago’s top three guards struggling or in foul trouble, hit a jumper and then a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to six and waking up the crowd at the United Center.
Using veterans Pargo, Adrian Griffin and Eric Piatkowski for extended minutes, the Bulls got back in the game, finally tying it at 35 on three free throws by Piatkowski and a slam by Game 1 star Andres Nocioni.
“They’re always ready,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said of his bench’s play. “We got a lot of guys that like to play. They picked us up.”
Hinrich returned after his long stint on the bench and scored seven points to spark a late 13-0 run, hitting a jumper, a 3-pointer and a layup after a steal.
When Davis sank a jumper and two free throws and Othella Harrington hit a hook shot, Chicago took a 57-48 lead before Juan Dixon’s jumper right before the buzzer made it a seven-point game at the half.
Washington turned up the defense early with three steals in the first three minutes and forced the Bulls into nine missed shots in their first 10 attempts. When Brendan Haywood slammed in a shot after a miss and Arena hit two free throws after he was fouled on a break, Washington had a 14-2 lead with 6:10 to go in the first quarter.
Arenas’ long 3-pointer increased it to 17-4 before Gordon’s driving layup ended a long field goal drought for the Bulls.
When Arenas broke ahead for a layup, he had nine first-quarter points, matching his entire output in Game 1. He came back with another jumper and the Wizards were rolling 23-10.
Chicago was just 5-for-19 in the opening period (26 percent), but hit 70 percent in the second quarter, connecting on 14 of 20 shots.
Wizards F Kwame Brown, who got a bruised knee in the final minute of Game 1 when Nocioni rolled into him, was ready to go. He entered with 7:28 to go in the first quarter. He played 21 minutes and had two points and four rebounds … Nocioni, who had 25 points and 18 rebounds in the opener, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.