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NEW YORK — Joe Johnson was red hot from the field to start Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

If he kept up his pace from the first quarter, the Chicago Bulls may have been in store for a similar drubbing that they suffered in Game 1 of the series.

Joe Johnson (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Johnson tallied seven early points on 3-of-5 shooting, but he then went on a 2.5-quarter stretch without scoring a point, as the Brooklyn Nets dropped Game 2 to the Bulls, 90-82.

Johnson only took one shot in 6:26 of action in the second quarter, but it was the third quarter that really gave him fits, as he shot 0-for-4 from the outside.

The Nets made a few runs keeping the game close, but ultimately the Bulls knocked down the big shot when they needed it.

“We didn’t have any continuity offensively,” Johnson said. “Sometimes shots are not going to always fall, and we need to do other things.”

Johnson finished the game strong, shooting 3-of-8 in the fourth quarter, but one huge shot could have erased all his previous shooting woes had it gone down.

Trailing 80-73 with 4:11 to go in the fourth quarter, Johnson took a pass from Deron Williams and drilled a three-pointer, raising the Barclays Center crowd to its feet.

Following a Bulls’ timeout, Williams grabbed a rebound and found Johnson open on the wing.

The crowd all stood as the ball left Johnson’s hand, but it rimmed out, garnering a collective sigh from the Nets’ faithful. That could have cut the deficit to just one with still plenty of time to go.

“It felt good,” said Johnson of that shot. “I thought it was good honestly, but it happens.”

Johnson finished the game shooting 6-of-18 (33 percent). He did knock down three three-pointers, but it certainly was an inconsistent night.

The Bulls’ defense stepped up its game in the third quarter, holding the Nets to just 11 points. However, Johnson said that it had more to do the Nets struggling on offense than the Bulls shutting them down defensively.

“It wasn’t their defense,” Johnson said. “We just didn’t have that flow offensively, and it pretty much hurt us.”

P.J. Carlesimo said the team did a good job of getting back in the game but that it dug too big a hole for itself late.

“He (Johnson) can’t make them all,” Carlesimo said. “We have to play better over the course of the 48 minutes than we did.”

Brooklyn now heads on the road to Chicago – where it lost both games this season – as the team tries to again gain the upper hand in the series. A consistent effort from Johnson – and D-Will for that matter – will be key for the Nets moving forward.

“The series is not over; it’s just begun,” Johnson said. “We just have to get back to the drawing board, make some adjustments – that’s what the playoffs are about – and move on.”

Jim Mancari is a Contributor to Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.

Tags: bulls, joe johnson, joe smooth, Editorial Aside, Columns, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, deron williams, pj carlesimo, chicago bulls, eastern conference quarterfinals, nba playoffs, nets bulls
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