On Monday night, the Nets were defeated by the Chicago Bulls by a final score of 90-82 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Skinny: Both teams were extremely cold offensively to start, but the Bulls managed an 8-2 run to open the game. The Nets did not make their first field goal until a Gerald Wallace running lay-up at the 6:48 mark. Carlos Boozer picked up where he left off in Game 1, knocking down a few tough shots early. The Nets played solid defense in the quarter with four steals and two blocks, which gave the offense some time to get going. Joe Johnson and Luol Deng each poured in seven first-quarter points, and Chicago led by three after the opening frame.
The Bulls increased the lead to seven to start the second quarter, led by an offensive spark off the bench from Marco Belinelli. But led by Kris Humphries, Brooklyn went on a 6-0 run to get within one. Three straight jumpers from Brook Lopez a few minutes later gave the Nets their first lead of the game. A 6-0 Chicago run put the Bulls back ahead, but a buzzer-beating three-pointer by C.J. Watson cut the Nets’ deficit to one at the break.
The Bulls again went up seven with an 8-2 run to start the third quarter. The Nets cut into the lead slightly, but a three-point play from Boozer again put the Bulls up eight. Chicago’s defense was stifling in the quarter, which allowed the team to then open a 12-point lead after three.
The teams traded buckets to open the fourth quarter, which allowed Chicago to maintain its lead. But from there, the “Bench Mob” orchestrated a 9-0 run to get back within five. Back-to-back field goals from Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson again put the Bulls up by double-digits. Again, the Nets answered with an 8-0 run to cut the Chicago lead to four. But in a major momentum swing, the Bulls went back up eight on tough shots by Deng and Noah. The Nets couldn’t recover from there, as the Bulls took Game 2.
High Scorers: Lopez led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and blocked three shots. For the Bulls, Deng led the way with 15 points on 7-of-17 from the field and pulled down 10 boards for the double-double.
Key Stats: The Bulls held a 42-30 advantage in points in the paint – a stat that was much closer after the first half.
Who Was Hot: Boozer had another strong performance against the Nets with 13 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. Playing injured, Noah recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Watson was strong again off the bench, scoring 10 points and dishing out five assists.
Who Was Not: Williams had trouble getting going all night, shooting just 1-of-9 for eight points, though he did pick up 10 assists. Johnson started and ended the game off great but went nearly 2.5 quarters without scoring a point.
Fun Fact: The road win for the Bulls moves their franchise postseason road record to 57-98, which actually is the sixth best mark among NBA teams.
Jim Mancari, ContributorThis game at least had the feel of a playoff atmosphere, even though it didn’t end the way the Nets would have liked.
The Bulls played their typical defensive style of basketball and really stifled the Nets in the all-important third quarter in which Brooklyn managed just 11 points.
Brooklyn’s backcourt didn’t exactly play up to All-Star form. Johnson got hot late and finished with 17 points, but the Nets will need a sustained four-quarter effort from both him and Williams for the remainder of the series.
The Nets certainly made things interesting late after trailing by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter but just couldn’t hit the big shot down the stretch.
The Bulls proved that Game 1 was an extreme fluke and that nothing will be handed to the Nets in this series.
The series shifts to United Center in Chicago for Game 3 Thursday night. The 8:30 p.m. game will be televised on My9 and NBA TV.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.