By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
The Chicago Bulls beat the Nets 92-90 on Thursday night in the Nets’ long-awaited return to Brooklyn. This is one of the Nets’ most dispiriting losses, as they had a chance to put it away early, but let the Bulls dominate the second half to get the win.
Chicago was without Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, and the Nets took advantage of that in the first quarter. Brook Lopez had 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting, with most of those coming in the paint. The problem for the Nets was that nobody else had the scoring touch, with Gerald Wallace having four points, and Deron Williams and Kris Humphries with two each.
The Nets led 28-13 at the end of the first, as they held Chicago to just a 26.3 shooting percentage. There were numerous sloppy possesssions from Brooklyn, including a bunch of missed layups from Wallace and Reggie Evans.
In the second quarter, the Bulls started to get back into it, as Carlos Boozer had nine points. The Nets got eight points from Deron Williams and five each from MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche to take a 47-36 lead into the half.
Boozer took over for the Bulls in the third quarter, with 10 points, helping them to tie the game at 65 with 3.6 seconds left. On the Nets; ensuing possession, Williams was well behind the three-point line, but pump-faked and drew Kirk Hinrich into the air to draw contact and a foul. Williams hit two of three free throws to give the Nets a 67-65 lead at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair that saw the Bulls take a 78-74 lead on a Boozer lay-up with 6:32 left.
A few minutes later, the Nets tied it at 80 on a Williams turnaround jumper. D-Will converted a three-point play later on to give the Nets an 85-84 lead with 1:56 left.
D-Will was not done in this magical fourth quarter, in which he scored nine points. He hit a jumper with 52.9 seconds left to give the Nets a 90-87 lead.
The Bulls responded with a jumper from Luol Deng and a floating jumper from Nate Robinson with 22.7 seconds left to make it 91-90 Chicago.
The Nets’ ensuing possession was not smooth, as the Bulls’ defense was stifling at this point. Williams was able to find Lopez under the hoop for a layup, but it was blocked by Nazr Mohammed.
It looked like it could have been a foul, but the referees let it go. Daequan Cook was fouled, and he hit one of two free throws to give the Bulls a 92-90 lead with 5.5 seconds left.
Everyone in the building had to guess that Joe Johnson, who has become known for game-winning shots, would take the last shot for Brooklyn. Instead, Deron Williams found an open Brook Lopez for a baseline jumper to tie the game, but it rimmed out.
Williams led the Nets with 30 points on 9-for-16 shooting with 10 assists for a double-double.
Lopez had 28 points, with only 10 after the big first quarter in which he scored 18. he shot 10-for-19 from the field and had five rebounds.
Joe Johnson, in his first game back after missing five games due to injury on the road trip, had 12 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago with 29 points on 12-for-22 shooting, and 18 rebounds, good enough for a double-double. Luol Deng had 18 points, and Jimmy Butler had 16.
This was Chicago’s third win in four games against Brooklyn.
Should they meet in the playoffs, the Bulls have proven to be a very tough matchup for the Nets because of Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s defense. The fact that Chicago won without Noah and Gibson shows that their system overrules who is actually on the court.
NETS HEAD COACH P.J. CARLESIMO ON THE LOSS, INCLUDING THE LAST TWO POSSESSIONS: