Wizards learn 'dogfight' mentality needed for playoffs

Wizards learn 'dogfight' mentality needed for playoffs
April 21, 2014, 11:30 am
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CHICAGO -- John Wall knew he was in the playoffs when he suddenly got gassed in Game 1, seemingly for no reason. He wasn't tired, but all of the games he has watched on TV and in person didn't prepare him for this reality. Playoff games are a different beast than the regular season. 

"It's very intense. I watched it and went to a couple of games. But it's a lot different when you're on the court," said Wall, who shot 4-for-14 but scored 16 points in Sunday's 102-93 comeback victory against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. "It was one segment where I couldn't breathe when I was going up and down the court."

Wall, in his fourth season, and second-year shooting guard Bradley Beal are postseason rookies. Beal shot just 3-for-11 for 13 points. But they did all the little things such as defending and assisting teammates Nene, Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat who got the job done. The Wizards erased a 13-point second-half deficit. 

"You don't look at 3-for-11 or 4-for-14. If they're the right shots, if they're good shots -- guys are going to make and miss shots -- I want them to take those shots," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "I didn't know how either one of them was going to react until you get them in that setting."

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The play was rough from the beginning. The Wizards still got to the foul in 12 times in the second quarter but only made half of them. They went from a first-quarter lead to trailing 54-48 at halftime. 

"It's a dogfight. They're not going to call fouls. What we said is we're not going to bitch at the officials anymore. We're not going to complain that I got pushed in the back," Wittman said. "We just fought. We pushed back. That's what you've got to do. Guys that haven't been in the playoffs understand that the game is different after tonight's game. It's called differently and it's played differently."

Instead of getting frustrated and trying to do it individually, something the Wizards are prone to doing when they've lost games they should've won during the regular season, they stayed patient in front of a rowdy 21,694 rooting against them.

"They were pushing us, so we've got to push them back," Beal said of the Wizards when they came out of halftime. "Its a physical team. We're a physical team. We did a good job in the second half of not getting punked."