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Wizards stage late comeback

AP

Nene started thinking about how it would all unfold in the middle of the night. No way could he have scripted it any better than this.

Nene dominated with 24 points, Trevor Ariza scored 18, and the Washington Wizards rallied from 13 down to beat the Chicago Bulls 102-93 in their playoff opener on Sunday.

John Wall scored 16 in his postseason debut. Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the fifth-seeded Wizards pulled out the victory even though they looked like they were ready to be blown out.

They cut a 13-point deficit to one in the third and trailed by three going into the fourth, before outscoring Chicago 18-6 over the final six minutes to come out on top in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

“We had a team dinner, and after that, in the middle of the night I started thinking about what I’m going to do,” Nene said. “How I’m going to defend. . . . Things like that. It’s a good feeling.”

Game 2 is Tuesday in Chicago.

Nene was locked in from the opening tip, dunking on the game’s first possession and scoring eight points in the first six minutes, and the Wizards turned it on down the stretch.

Gortat’s layup started the decisive run, and Ariza gave Washington an 88-87 lead when he hit a pair of free throws with 4:17 remaining. Jimmy Butler tied it for Chicago with one of his own, but a layup by Gortat and basket by Nene made it 92-88, and the Wizards hung on after Chicago’s Joakim Noah cut it to two on a tip-in with 2:11 left.

Gortat hit two free throws and added a jumper with 34 seconds left to make it a six-point game, and the Wizards took the early lead in the best-of-seven series.

Washington shot 49 percent and out-rebounded the Bulls 45-39 with Nene setting the tone inside. He hit 11 of 17 shots and grabbed eight rebounds.

Andre Miller came on strong down the stretch, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth, and the Wizards pulled this one out even though Wall and Bradley Beal (13 points) combined to shoot just 7 of 25.

Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin each scored 16 points, and Butler had 15. But after posting more wins since Jan. 1 than any other Eastern Conference team, Chicago finds itself in a hole.

“There are a lot of things you can do to help your team win. We’re capable of playing a lot better,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Chicago led by 13 early in the third and was up 69-57 midway through the quarter when the Wizards went on a 13-2 run to make it a one-point game.

Ariza’s 3-pointer cut it to 71-70 with 3:32 remaining. Noah answered with a layup and Taj Gibson hit two free throws to make it a five-point game, but a basket by Miller made it a three-point game going into the fourth.

“Up 13, we exhaled and they came back,” Noah said. “Bad turnovers. They got some easy scores.

“We got to make our adjustments. This is chess. It isn’t checkers.”

Heat 99, Bobcats 88

In Miami, LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade added 23 and the Heat used a late charge to beat Charlotte in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

Chris Bosh scored 13 points and James Jones had 12 for the two-time defending champions. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday.

Kemba Walker scored 20 points for the Bobcats, who led by nine early and led again in the third. Al Jefferson missed eight of his final 13 shots after getting hurt in the first quarter. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, which got 17 from Gary Neal and 15 from Josh McRoberts.

Miami sealed it with an 18-4 run in the fourth, all but three of those points coming with James getting a rest.

Spurs 90, Mavericks 85

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 27 points, and the Spurs held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to win Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5½ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming as time expired.

Tony Parker had 21 points, and Manu Ginobili added 17. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tiago Splitter pulled down 11 rebounds for top-seeded San Antonio, which has won 10 straight against Dallas.

Devin Harris scored 19 points for the Mavericks, who nearly pulled off a huge upset.

Blazers 122, Rockets 120 (OT)

In Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points and Damian Lillard added 31, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, to lift Portland to a triumph over the Rockets in their series opener.

Aldridge fouled out with about a minute left in overtime and Lillard, who was making his playoff debut, took over. He scored the next five points for Portland and put the Trail Blazers on top by one point with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.

Aldridge, who was playing in his home state, also had 18 rebounds and two blocks. James Harden and Dwight Howard each scored 27 points for Houston.

It was a physical game with the teams combining for 79 free throws.