Ariza's shooting and Booker's grit cover for Nene's absence

Ariza's shooting and Booker's grit cover for Nene's absence
April 27, 2014, 5:45 pm
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The lack of Nene clears the path for the two Trevors -- Ariza and Booker -- to make a major impact for the Wizards as they head into Game 5 with a chance to close out the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. 

Ariza set a career-playoff high with 30 points. Booker, starting for Nene who was suspended for Game 4 because of an altercation in the previous game, did all the dirty work in-between. The result was end-to-end domination of the Bulls on Sunday, 98-89, for a 3-1 series lead. 

"I got a lot of open looks. Normally those touches are for Nene early in the game," said Ariza, who made 10 of 17 shots, including a franchise postseason-tying six three-pointers. "But we needed somebody to step up and be aggressive and today I took that role."

Ariza had 11 points in the first quarter to get the Wizards out to a 14-0 start. He then had 10 points in the third quarter when the Wizards pulled ahead to their largest lead of 21.

Booker started 22 games in place of Nene after he went down with a left knee ligament strain Feb. 23. The Wizards were 12-10 during that stretch, which included a game after Nene's return we he rested on a back-to-back, but learned how to win without him. To start the season, they were 1-6 without Nene when he missed time with a calf injury and foot soreness.

[MORE: Ariza drops 30 points as Wizards dominate Bulls]

The Bulls were so worried about Ariza and Bradley Beal getting clean looks that they left Booker open at the elbow as the Wizards were making their run that put the game away. Booker nailed the 21-footer for a 70-55 lead.

"Get the crowd into it. Get the team going. Knock down open jumpers. I did just what the team needed because others stepped up for the scoring today," said Booker, who had eight points, nine rebounds -- six offensive -- and three blocked shots before fouling out late in the fourth.  

"Even though we didn't have Nene coming into the game we were still very confident. We just played tremendous, offensively and defensively. ... A lot of people counted us out because we didn't have Nene. But we knew coming in we still had a good chance to win this game. We know what to do when he's out."

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