On Monday night, the Nets defeated the Chicago Bulls by a final score of 110-91 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Skinny: After falling behind, the Nets went on an early 13-4 run to open a seven-point lead, with Deron Williams contributing five points during the run. But Chicago followed with a 7-0 run of its own to tie the game. Brook Lopez then led Brooklyn on a 7-0 run to again go up seven. Lopez poured in 11 points in the quarter, and the Nets led by five after one.
Nate Robinson’s energy led the Bulls on a 7-0 run to take the lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Back-and-forth lead changes ensued before a 9-2 Nets’ run, led by hot mid-range shooting by Kris Humphries, put Brooklyn back up six. Chicago again closed the lead, but back-to-back three-pointers from Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace and a pair of free-throws from Lopez as part of an 8-0 run put the Nets up 10. Eight points from Humphries in the quarter helped the Nets lead by eight at the break.
Williams scored nine points within the first five minutes of the third quarter to help the Nets maintain their lead. The Bulls fought back to get within five, and the intensity on both ends was furious. Lopez had six points and five rebounds in the quarter, but a jumper from Luol Deng got the Bulls within four after three.
A bank-shot three-pointer from Jimmy Butler got Chicago within one to start the fourth. Andray Blatche answered with six straight Nets’ points, but Marco Belinelli made a few tough shots to keep the game close. Blatche kept up the hot outside shooting as part of a 6-0 Nets’ run to put Brooklyn back up seven. A three-point play from Lopez increased the Nets’ lead to eight. A huge three from Wallace then put the Nets up 10 with just over two minutes remaining. He followed that up with a steal and a dunk, increasing the lead to 12 – leading to the Nets’ win.
High Scorers: Lopez led all scorers with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double. For the Bulls, Robinson led the way with 20 points on 9-of-19 from the field and dished out eight assists.
Key Stats: The Nets controlled the glass, outrebounding the Bulls 44-32, including 17-10 on the offensive glass. Brooklyn also held a 21-9 advantage in fast-break points.
Who Was Hot: Williams finished with 23 points and 10 assists for a double-double. Blatche shot 4-of-6 in the fourth quarter and finished with 13 points. Carlos Boozer recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Butler poured in 18 points with four steals.
Who Was Not: Both teams were cold from three-point range, with the Bulls shooting 33 percent and the Nets 35 percent.
Fun Fact: The Nets are now 6-0 all-time in playoff Game 5’s at home.
Jim Mancari, ContributorThe Bulls have not won four straight games at any point this season, and that streak remains in tact as the Nets came up with a huge victory in Game 5.
It was an offensive boost from Humphries in the second quarter and Blatche and Wallace in the fourth quarter that propelled the Nets to victory. Of course, big games from Lopez and D-Will added to Brooklyn’s attack.
The Bulls though never really went away until late, and expect them to come out with fire on their home court in Game 6. The Nets are 0-4 this season at the United Center between the regular season and playoffs.
Only eight teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit in a playoff series, and the Nets still have a huge hill to climb.
The shifts back to Chicago for Game 6 Thursday night. The 8 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network and TNT.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.