Taj Gibson’s early exit dooms Bulls down stretch
BY patrick finley Staff Reporter April 29, 2014 10:26PM
Updated: June 1, 2014 6:44AM
Taj Gibson watched the last 7:51 of the season from the training room after rolling his left ankle.
He didn’t like what he saw: The Wizards grabbed five offensive rebounds in the final 1:57 of the Game 5 75-69 loss Tuesday night at United Center.
“Just frustrating,” he said.
Up three, the Wizards held the ball for 1:18, buoyed by three Marcin Gortat offensive rebounds.
With 16.2 seconds left and still up three, Andre Miller missed both free-throw attempts, but Nene got the rebound. When Bradley Beal missed his second free throw, Nene got another rebound.
“It symbolized the way the series went,” swingman Mike Dunleavy said. “We just could not secure an offensive rebound.
“A lot of tipouts. A lot of loose balls. It was kinda the crowning blow to our season.”
The Wizards outrebounded the Bulls by seven in the fourth quarter. Entering Game 5, each team had 166 rebounds in the series.
“Their bigs did a great job of making the second-, third-effort plays,” guard Kirk Hinrich said.
“Usually we thrive on that, and they kicked our butts pretty bad in that category this series.”
Guard D.J. Augustin said the Bulls “just couldn’t get to those balls, and that was the difference in the games. And not just this game, but all the games.’’
Gibson said his ankle was “real painful” but not broken and would be examined Wednesday.
Gibson averaged 13 points during the season before posting 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in the playoffs.
“Taj was huge,” Joakim Noah said. “I don’t think we would have been playing in the playoffs if it wasn’t for the development of Taj.”
Noah, hobbled by his own knee injury, combined with Carlos Boozer to go 1-for-4 for two points in the fourth quarter.
“Taj has been great for us all year, has been great for us this series,” Dunleavy said. “Having him go down is no good. Not a good finish to a great season for him.”