Resilient Bulls in familiar territory

But that's not to say the Bulls won't lose this series to a feisty Wizards team. A first-round defeat was always in the mix for this team, which, yes, could also make it to the Eastern Conference finals by beating either the Atlanta Hawks or Indiana Pacers in the next round.

It's just that the margin between wins and losses is thinner than Tony Snell.

During the regular season, Chicago was one of two teams to average fewer than 100 points in victories (99) and one of two to average fewer than 90 in losses (86). The Bulls were last in both categories.

With Rose in street clothes, there is no takeover artist on the roster. The Bulls win by sharing the ball. In this loss, they had just 13 assists on 34 baskets. The made shots are in line with the team average, but the Bulls average almost 23 assists per game.

Augustin, credited by most as the key to the team's post-Rose, post- Luol Deng success, missed 12 of 15 shots and five of six in the second half.

Mike Dunleavy was the only Bull to score in double figures in the second half, and all 11 points came in the first 5:06 of the third quarter.

The Bulls led consecutively for 23:36, stretching from the final 3:53 of the first half until Washington retook the lead with 4:17 to go on a Trevor Ariza free throw.

After that, the Bulls just couldn't score and didn't really defend, either. That's the key here. Washington got key offensive rebounds late and always seemed to have that answer basket in the fourth.

"Guys weren't where they were supposed to be in a lot of plays, and it showed late," Gibson said.

Thibodeau thinks the team's offensive struggles bled into the defense.

"We can't allow frustration to get in the way of what we are trying to do," Thibodeau said. "We have to play for 48 minutes. We have to bounce back."

With 34 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Al Pacino appeared on the United Center video board giving his "Any Given Sunday" speech as a Bulls highlight reel played on.

It was an awkward time for movie magic. The Bulls trailed by six, and fans had started to trickle out.

There was no Hollywood ending for the Bulls in their playoff opener, but at the same time, their story isn't written yet.

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