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Basketball / Sports

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) pulls down a rebound over Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) during the first half of their first round playoff game played at the Verizon Center in Washington, Friday, Apr. 25, 2014. (Chuck Myers/MCT)

Mike Dunleavy huge with 35 points in Bulls' playoff win

WASHINGTON -- Asked before Game 3 if the Verizon Center fit his shooter's eye, Mike Dunleavy replied: "Good arena. Rims are 10 feet high."

It was the most low-key thing he did all day.

The veteran forward was so electric Friday night, his performance inspired the Twitter hashtag #TheDunleavyGame.

He scored 35 points by going 12-for-19, quadrupling his career playoff average of 8.5 points. His previous playoff best was 17, and he came within one point of his career high.

By nailing 8 of 10 from 3-point range, he bested Scottie Pippen's franchise record of seven 3-pointers in a playoff game.

"It just feels good to get a win," Dunleavy said after the Bulls' 100-97 victory. "It's been a rough series. Whether I score 35 points or zero, I'm just happy to get a win and get into the series."

His performance was made even sweeter by what transpired at halftime. After Dunleavy lit up the Wizards' Bradley Beal for 16 points, Beal went on CSN Mid-Atlantic and proclaimed, "I guarantee he won't score in the second half."

Beal also gave Dunleavy his due, saying: "Yeah, he got hot. He's a great shooter. But we've got to take those away. A lot of those are my fault. ... I take all the blame for all the points he has."

By the end of the third quarter, Beal needed a white flag. And a white towel. He looked exhausted from chasing Dunleavy around multiple screens, possession after possession.

Dunleavy hit one rainbow 3 despite Beal smacking the side of his head for a four-point play. On another, he moved so crisply without the ball that he was all alone for a corner 3.

Asked if he heard the trash talk, Dunleavy deadpanned, "No, we don't watch TV at halftime."

He might want to watch the morning highlight shows, though, because he will be all over them.

"He hit one big shot after the next," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The plays he made were huge. He kept us in the game."

After heating up in the second quarter, Dunleavy garnered such respect that when he pump-faked, two Wizards jumped out at him. So he drove the lane and converted a three-point play after getting hacked by Nene.

But his biggest bucket was a swished 3-pointer that gave his team an 89-88 lead with just over three minutes to play.

"I feel like I've been shooting the ball well; I just haven't had a ton of looks," Dunleavy said. "(Thibodeau) mentioned something about trying to get me more catch-and-shoot situations, and we did that."

As if he needed extra motivation, Dunleavy had participated in just two playoff series in his first 12 seasons in the league -- with the Pacers in 2011 and the Bucks last season. His teams lost both. So it's no surprise his emphasis is on winning, not scoring.

Appropriately enough, Dunleavy had the ball in his hands at the final horn. He placed it on the floor before high-fiving his teammates.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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BULLS


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