Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (left) and Wizards forward Nene stand head-to-head in Game 3 of their playoff series Friday night. Nene received a double technical and was ejected. | Alex Brandon/AP
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Updated: May 28, 2014 6:51AM
WASHINGTON — It seems that Jimmy Butler can’t help but be an irritant these days.
On Friday, it was Washington Wizards big man Nene. He was angry with a Butler hand-check in the fourth quarter, so he attempted a head-butt and a headlock and was tossed from Game 3. The NBA suspending Nene for Game 4 on Sunday.
On Saturday, it was a hotel worker who wasn’t happy with Butler after the shooting guard attempted to pound a couple of keys on a hotel lounge piano. The worker walked over, covered the keyboard and muttered a couple of words. There wasn’t a head-butt, but Butler got a laugh.
He’s definitely not finding a lot of love in Washington.
“Yeah, we all know what to do in situations like [Friday] night with Nene,’’ Butler said. “Close game, we need everybody. But more than anything, it just shows that as hard as we play, we don’t ever take things over the top. That’s a good quality to have, and it shows the character of our team.’’
It also shows that, if this series switches to mental warfare through physical play, the Wizards are still in middle school, while the Bulls have their master’s degree.
“You look at the past few years, and, yeah, that’s the type of basketball we like to play,’’ Butler said. “It just fits into our hand and just helps us. It lets us know that the tougher team is going to win, and we think we’re the toughest team.’’
They also were the team with more restraint.
“We’ve been through a lot,’’ Mike Dunleavy. “I think we’re in a good place mentally, emotionally, and who knows how long this run is going to go. But I think one thing is for sure: We’re not going to beat ourselves.’’
Considering the Wizards are 14-15 without Nene and that he is their third-leading scorer in the series with 17 points per game, the Wizards might have taken steps to beat themselves.
But while several Bulls players are embracing the role of muddying up the game to knock the Wizards off their game, Joakim Noah disliked the idea that the Bulls were trying to physically intimidate the opposition.
“Yeah, it’s crazy to me how quick people pass judgment to say, ‘Oh, this is who they are.’ ” Noah said. “Every game is different, every situation is different. They have a lot of physical players, and we try to play a physical game, try to win the game. At the end of the day, it’s the way the referees see it. So their perspective is what matters most, and the only thing we can do is control what we can control, and that’s to do our best.
“I think we’re just trying to make it as difficult as possible on them. Like I said, they’re a very talented group. They have very few holes in what they do defensively and offensively, and we’re just trying our best.’’