Bulls sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy Jr. had a quiet follow-up to his 35-point outing in Friday’s Game 3 win, scoring just six points in the Bulls’ 98-89 Game 4 loss Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
Part of the reason for the sharpshooter’s struggles was the Wizards’ increased defensive attention on him, an expected strategy, but Dunleavy was also hampered by a left-thumb injury suffered in the second half of the defeat. Dunleavy was taken for an MRI after the contest and a Bulls spokesman confirmed that the ailment was a bruised left thumb.
“I just put my hand down as I was taking the charge. I put my hand back and jammed my thumb. It’s pretty sore right now, but I don’t think it’s anything dramatic,” Dunleavy explained. “It’s my left hand and it’s not going to make a difference for me.”
The veteran acknowledged that Washington did a much better job of limiting him, as they held him scoreless in the first half, a delayed fulfillment of second-year Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal’s “guarantee” that Dunleavy wouldn’t score in the second half of Game 3, which obviously didn’t come true.
“Yeah, there was more of an alertness. Look, it was tough getting shots off the other night. It’s been tough all series,” Dunleavy said. “They’ve done a good job. If we can just do a better job of taking care of the ball and not let them get out in transition, it will give us a better chance to win.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t surprised by the defense played by the Wizards, but was disappointed that his team didn’t take better advantage of the focus on Dunleavy.
“Yeah, we anticipated that. When a player has a good game there will be an adjustment and as I told you, the game tells you what shots will be there,” the coach explained. “So if you overcommit in one area, there should be other opportunities, and you should be able to read that. That’s a big part of it. We didn’t get stops early, so we couldn’t get out and get easy baskets, and that’s probably the difference in the game.”