CHICAGO — John Wall finished with 24, Nene scored 20, and the Wizards beat the Bulls 75-69 on Tuesday to clinch their first-round series in five games.
Bradley Beal scored 17, and the fifth-seeded Wizards advanced in the postseason for just the third time since 1979. They will meet Indiana or Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It's a huge step for a franchise that hadn't been to the postseason since 2008, but with Wall and Beal leading the way, they won 44 games during the regular season.
The Bulls expected to challenge the Heat for supremacy in the East with Derrick Rose back after sitting out last season, only to lose their star to another season-ending knee injury. As if that wasn't enough, they traded away Luol Deng to the Cavaliers yet somehow squeezed out 48 victories.
In Game 5, the Wizards turned a halftime tie into a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and hung on down the stretch.
Chicago's comeback chances were hampered in the fourth quarter when Taj Gibson crumbled to the court clutching his left ankle. He had to be helped off the court and did not return.
The Bulls cut it to 70-67 on a jumper by Carlos Boozer with 3:32 left. Wall then poked the ball away from Boozer and nailed a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer. Chicago hit two free throws with 2:18 remaining to cut it back down to three, but the Wizards grabbed three offensive rebounds while whittling more than a minute off the clock before Beal, a former Florida star, threw the ball away with a minute left in the game.
Boozer missed on a drive, but the Bulls had another chance after a shot-clock violation by Washington with 22.4 seconds left. Chicago's Jimmy Butler missed on a layup off the inbounds, and the Wizards caught a break after Andre Miller missed two free throws.
Beal tracked down the loose ball and hit the first free throw to make it 73-69 with 14.6 seconds left before missing the second. But again, the Wizards got the rebound. This time it was Nene, and that led to two free throws by Wall with 7.8 seconds remaining.
Wall and Nene, back from a one-game suspension for grabbing Butler's head, both had seven rebounds. Marcin Gortat scored just two points but grabbed 13 boards.
Butler and Kirk Hinrich scored 16 each and Gibson had 12. Joakim Noah added 18 rebounds and seven assists. Boozer, a candidate to be amnestied, added 10 points and nine rebounds in what might have been his final appearance for Chicago.
Wizards 75, Bulls 69
WASHINGTON (75): Ariza 3-8 0-0 6, Nene 10-17 0-1 20, Gortat 1-5 0-0 2, Wall 7-19 9-11 24, Beal 6-13 4-5 17, Booker 3-7 0-0 6, Webster 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-3 0-2 0, Temple 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-74 13-19 75.
CHICAGO (69): Dunleavy 2-8 1-2 5, Boozer 4-12 2-2 10, Noah 3-8 0-2 6, Hinrich 6-11 0-0 16, Butler 6-15 2-2 16, Augustin 1-10 2-2 4, Gibson 3-10 6-7 12, Snell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-75 13-17 69.
Washington 23 18 20 14— 75
Chicago 15 26 11 17— 69
3-Point Goals—Washington 2-9 (Wall 1-2, Beal 1-4, Webster 0-1, Ariza 0-1, Booker 0-1), Chicago 6-16 (Hinrich 4-5, Butler 2-4, Dunleavy 0-3, Augustin 0-4). Fouled Out—Hinrich. Rebounds—Washington 56 (Gortat 13), Chicago 48 (Noah 18). Assists—Washington 16 (Wall, Nene, Beal 4), Chicago 19 (Noah 7). Total Fouls—Washington 19, Chicago 17. Technicals—Chicago defensive three second. A—21,752 (20,917).
LATE MONDAY: San Antonio's Boris Diaw hit a go-ahead 3-pointer for the last of his 17 points, Manu Ginobili scored 23 and the top-seeded Spurs beat the host Mavericks 93-89 in Game 4, pulling even in their first-round playoff series.
"You've got to give up something," said Dirk Nowitzki, who was running at Diaw as the shot was released. "That was a tough one."
Diaw put the Spurs up 90-87 with 32 seconds remaining. Nowitzki scored on a missed 3-pointer by Monta Ellis to get Dallas within 90-89 with 19 seconds left. But the Mavericks let nearly 10 seconds run off the clock before fouling Ginobili.
Ginobili missed one of the free throws, giving Ellis a chance to tie on a driving layup. Ellis, who led the Mavericks with 20, missed again to finish a 6-of-20 shooting night.
Game 5 is tonight in San Antonio. Spurs guard Tony Parker has a mild left ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated before the game. No MRI and X-rays were planned. Parker had a series-low 10 points on Monday.
Mavericks center DeJuan Blair was suspended for tonight's game for kicking Tiago Splitter of the Spurs in the head.
FIRED assistant MAY HAVE taped TALKS: Former Warriors assistant coach Darren Erman recorded conversations of coaches and players without their knowledge before being fired by the team this month, espn.com reported.
It's unclear what Erman did with the alleged recordings. Golden State fired Erman on April 5 for what the team called a "violation of company policy." The Warriors neither confirmed nor denied the report.
Since his firing, Erman was hired as a scout for the Celtics.
Erman was the second assistant dismissed from Mark Jackson's staff this season. Jackson reassigned Brian Scalabrine to the team's NBA Development League team in March.