By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
The Nets held off the Chicago Bulls down the stretch in Game 6 to win 95-92, and have brought the series back to Barclays Center for a Game 7 on Saturday night at 8:00 pm.
Andray Blatche’s free throws with 19 seconds left gave the Nets a 95-92 lead. Chicago had a chance to tie it when Marco Belinelli took a three-pointer with seven seconds left, but it barely hit the rim.
The ball was off Chicago, as Joakim Noah could not track down the rebound. The Nets inbounded to Deron Williams, and Noah grabbed the ball from Williams to force a jump ball with three seconds left. Noah won it, but tipped it to a Net, and they dribbled it out to preserve the win.
The Nets had big leads throughout, but never folded when it got close. Chicago never tied the game after the first quarter despite many chances to do so. Despite their tremendous will, the injuries to Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng that kept them out of this hurt Chicago.
The Nets were led by Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson, who all had 17 each, and Gerald Wallace chipped in 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
The first quarter was all Lopez and Johnson for the Nets. Lopez had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting and Johnson also had 10 on 5-for-6 shooting.
The Nets were down 25-23 with 2:30 left, and went on a run to close the quarter, something they have done a lot of this series. They closed the first on a 10-2 run, with Lopez gettting a layup and two free throws, and MarShon Brooks, Andray Blatche, and Johnson had two each in the stretch.
The Nets’ bench kept the momentum going, and Kris Humphries drove down the lane for a layup at the 8:51 mark to make it 39-31 Brooklyn. Humphries had another layup later in the second and was effective for the second straight game.
Toward the middle of the second quarter, Chicago was very sloppy with their passing and they committed three straight turnovers.
Nate Robinson came alive soon after, with a three-pointer, attempts to get the crowd into it, and then an acrobatic move for a layup in which he drew a foul. That occurred at the 4:00 mark, and he made the free throw to complete the three-point play to make it 45-41 Nets.
An interesting sequence happened with 2:30 left with the Nets clinging to a 50-48 lead. Gerald Wallace missed a dunk, Robinson raced to the other end, but made a bad pass that the Nets picked off, and Williams got on the fast break for a dunk.
This started another nice run to close a quarter for the Nets, led by D-Will. He hit a three-pointer, found Lopez for a layup and hit two free throws with 31 seconds left to make it 60-50. A Marco Belinelli three-pointer pulled Chicago to within 60-54 at halftime.
The Nets came out strong in the third quarter, as a Gerald Wallace layup gave them a 67-59 lead 3:01 into it. After this, the Nets missed 12 straight field goals until C.J. Watson hit a layup with 1:42 left. By this point, Chicago was back in this game, and Watson’s layup made it 72-69 Brooklyn.
The Bulls were down 74-71 with 10 seconds left in the third quarter when Marquis Teague missed a three that would have tied it.
Gerald Wallace gave the Nets some breathing room early in the fourth quarter when he hit a three that make it 78-73.
Kris Humphries played major minutes in the fourth quarter and got a layup to make it 83-75 Nets at the 8:11 mark. He was fouled by Carlos Boozer, and it was his fifth foul, sending Chicago’s best scoring option to the bench.
It gave Chicago a lift, as it had when Boozer had to leave because of foul trouble in the third quarter. Robinson faked out Humphries on a layup to cut the Nets’ lead to four, at 83-79, with 7:31 left. The Bulls’ offense went cold until Boozer returned and hit a layup before Robinson hit a jumper to pull them within two, at 85-83, at the 4:35 mark.
Brook Lopez, who had a tough second half, came alive with two dunks to give the Nets an 89-95 with three minutes left.
It went right to the wire, as every game has in this series, and the Bulls were within two, at 92-90, in the final minute. Robinson was the go-to guy for the Bulls down the stretch, and he drove right to the hoop and missed a layup with 32 seconds left. On the rebound, Boozer was called for a foul, and that was his sixth, meaning he fouled out. Blatche was fouled, and hit one of two free throws to give the Nets a three-point edge.
The Bulls went quickly to the hoop on their ensuing possession, and Nazr Mohammed got a layup to make it 93-92 Nets with 25.2 seconds left before Blatche hit the game-winning free throws with 19 seconds left.