Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) shoots the ball as Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) looks on in the third quarter in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Photo by Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
WASHINGTON - (UPDATED) Trevor Ariza scored an NBA playoff career-best 30 points to spark Washington over Chicago 98-89 Sunday, putting the Wizards on the brink of advancing to the second round.
The Wizards lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup 3-1 with game five in Chicago on Tuesday.
Ariza sank six 3-pointers to spark the Wizards while John Wall contributed 15 points and 10 assists, Bradley Beal added 18 points and Poland center Marcin Gortat scored 17.
"A stunning win for us. Definitely better basketball than we played Friday, especially on defense," Gortat said. "It was a must win for us. We have a lot more confidence going to Chicago for game five."
In the other Eastern Conference matchup Sunday, the Toronto Raptors ended their lengthy road playoff losing skid by beating the Brooklyn Nets 87-79.
Washington scored the game's first 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, stretched the lead as large as 85-62 on a Beal 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and never trailed the Bulls, who came no closer than eight points in the final minutes.
"They came out with great intensity. We didn't get stops early. We didn't get out well," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "That was the difference in the game."
Taj Gibson scored 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting to lead Chicago, which also had 16 points from Jimmy Butler and 10 points and 15 points from Joakim Noah in the loss.
The Wizards were without Brazilian big man Nene, who was suspended for one game Saturday by the league for head butting Butler in the fourth quarter of game three on Friday.
It was the Bulls' seventh loss in the past eight playoff appearances.
"We turned the ball over too much. That was a huge problem," Thibodeau said. "You can't put it on any one guy. It's our team readiness to play. It's disappointing. It has got to change or our season will be over. We're not looking to make any excuses. We've got to do better."
NBA playoff teams have won 96 percent of the time when seizing a 3-1 edge in a series, with the Wizards 5-0 in such situations and the Bulls 0-8 when losing three of the first four games in a series.
DeMar DeRozan tallied 24 points, Kyle Lowry scored 22 and the Raptors beat the Nets for their first road playoff win in almost 13 years.
The Raptors tied the best-of-seven first-round series at 2-2 heading into Wednesday's game five at Air Canada Centre arena.
They opened the game with a 13-2 surge and ended it with a 9-0 run, holding the Nets scoreless for almost five minutes at the end.
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