Wizards power forward Nene scored 24 points to help his team overcome a 13-point deficit and seize homecourt advantage from the fourth seeded Bulls.
J. Michael of CSN Washington narrates how Nene made a difference for Washington in his April 20 update:
"Nene scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first half when he made 7 of 10 shots, but it was his play in the fourth quarter that made the difference. He stole the ball from (Chicago center Joakim) Noah at the top of the key and went end-to-end for a reverse layup.
"After missing his first three free throws in the first half, he made a pair. He threaded the needle with a perfect bounce pass to Andre Miller for a layup.
"He had another bounce pass in traffic to Marcin Gortat for a layup. His jumper gave the Wizards a 92-88 lead in the waning minutes.
"Then he blocked a shot by Kirk Hinrich with the shot clock winding down with less than one minute left to keep it a two-possession game.
"And down 96-90 with less than 40 seconds left, Taj Gibson tried to attack Nene in the paint and was stripped -- twice -- which disrupted what would be an empty possession."
Nene scored eight points in the game's first six minutes to give Washington the early 12-8 lead. The Bulls' Carlos Boozer tallied seven points of his own in the quarter to help his team stay within striking distance at 24-22.
Nene got hot almost four minutes into the second quarter, his six points -- all of them on jumpers -- gave him 14 for the half and a four-point Washington lead at 37-33.
A 9-4 run featuring two D.J. Augustin free throws, a Hinrich three-pointer and and a dunk and layup by Gibson gave the Bulls a 49-44 lead.
They would lead 54-48 at halftime.
Chicago threated to pull away with a 10-3 run that saw Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy drain two triples, a Dunleavy layup and a Hinrich reverse layup for a 64-51 advantage.
However, the Wizards unleashed an 11-2 run of their own more than three minutes later to whittle the lead to just one, 71-70.
The fourth quarter was nip-and-tuck for the most part until Nene's late-game heroics put the Bulls away for good.
Wizards forward Trevor Ariza had 18 points while point guard John Wall and Gortat chipped in with 16 and 15, respectively. Gortat also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
Hinrich was the Bulls' top scorer with 16 points. Shooting guard Jimmy Butler finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Washington head coach Randy Wittman told Andrew Seligman of The Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) keeping one's composure in the playoffs is the key to victory.
"You have to stay in the moment. There will be times in the playoffs where we have to survive and stay in the game with six or seven straight possessions and not score.
"Both teams can do that. Who is going to stay in the fight when you do that? We did. We had a period where they outplayed us, no question about it.
"We had to get that back, and in the second half, I thought we did."
Game 2 will be at the United Center on Tuesday, April 22 with a 9:30 pm ET tip-off.