In earning their first win of the series, the Bulls made plays down the stretch and got a huge offensive night from Mike Dunleavy in a 100-97 win.
Dunleavy scored a playoff career-high 35 points, nailing 8 of 10 3-pointers, besting Scottie Pippen's franchise record of seven in a playoff game.
"It was an ugly game, but wow, Dunleavy,’’ Noah said. “Unbelievable performance. Guys stepped up. It’s the first of four and every game is a battle. I’m just happy we got the win."
Coming into the game, Dunleavy had shot 8-for-18 and 4 of 11 from three. With the Bulls late-game struggles the first two games of the series, most had questioned why Dunleavy didn't garner more time in the closing minutes.
A performance like this assures that he probably won't be missing much time in the fourth from here on out.
"I feel like I've been shooting the ball well; I just haven't had a ton of looks," Dunleavy said. "(coach Tom Thibodeau) mentioned something about trying to get me more catch-and-shoot situations, and we did that."
Dunleavy's three with 3:04 minutes remaining gave the Bulls an 89-88 lead. Washington's Bradley Beal responded with a three of his own.
A Taj Gibson free throw would tie the game at 91. John Wall would miss two free throws that would have giving the Wizards the lead with 1:27 remaining.
Jimmy Butler's three-pointer with 24 seconds gave the Bulls the lead for good and he scored seven of the team's final 11 points.
"Big shot," Joakim Noah said. "And it helped us win a ballgame. I couldn't be happier for Jimmy because I know how much work he puts into it. People don't realize how hard it is to play the amount of minutes that he plays. People really have no idea what that feels like. And what he does on a consistent basis for our team is just priceless."
After playing all 53 minutes of Game Two, Butler played only 41 in Game Three. He finished with 15 points.
He also got into a brief altercation with Washington's Nene in the fourth quarter, as the two were forehead-to-forehead before Nene grabbed the back of Butler's head and raised his right arm as if he was preparing to land a blow.
Nene was ejected from the game as Butler played on.
"Just two people wanting to win a game, competing,’’ Butler said. “I guess he gave me one of those (nudges) and I didn’t like it. It is what it is."
The fight hasn't gone anywhere, but there remains a lot of work to be done if the Bulls are to try and gain some semblance of control over the confident Wizards.