The Skinny: Deron Williams kept up his string of fast starts, hitting on his first three shots from the field for seven points which helped the Nets open an early seven-point lead. Brooklyn increased the lead to 10, as the shorthanded Bulls managed just 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the first quarter.
Chicago chipped away into the Nets’ lead to eventually tie the game as Marco Belinelli and Brooklyn-born Taj Gibson provided an offensive spark. Luol Deng drilled a corner three with less than a minute left in the half to give the Bulls their first lead. As that was happening, Williams hobbled to the Nets bench after stepping on Nate Robinson’s foot and appearing to roll hi right ankle. The Bulls led by one at the break.
Williams returned to start the second half. Chicago opened a six-point lead as Jimmy Butler began heating up. Tempers began flaring as Gerald Wallace picked up a technical foul, and then both Rip Hamilton and Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau were called for technicals. A Keith Bogans three-pointer put the Nets back on top at the midway point of the third. Back-and-forth lead changes and ties ensued, but the Bulls led by four after three.
MarShon Brooks singlehandedly gave the Nets lead with five straight points to start the fourth quarter. He scored nine of the team’s first 11 points in the quarter, and then a C.J. Watson corner three put Brooklyn up four. Brooklyn increased the lead to seven, as Andray Blatche contributed at the offensive end. The Bulls cut the deficit to three, but a huge Joe Johnson three put the Nets pack up six with just under two minutes to go. Robinson got Chicago back within two with a pair of free-throws. Blatche and Wallace cleaned up around the basket on bask-to-back possessions to put the Nets back up five. Deng hit two free-throws at the other end and then followed with a steal off an inbound and layup to cut the Nets’ lead to two with 15.9 seconds left. Watson hit two clutch free-throws to put the Nets back up four to ice the game.
High Scorers: Brook Lopez led all scorers with 20 points on 9-of-16 from the field but did not play in the fourth quarter. For the Bulls, Deng and Belinelli led the way with 18 points.
Key Stats: The Nets held the advantage in rebounding, 40-29, and in points in the paint, 56-44. The Bulls hit 20-of-22 free-throws, while the Nets managed just 10-of-20 from the charity stripe.
Who Was Hot: Brooks finished with 13 points in 20:41 off the bench. Blatche scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter on 5-of-7 shooting. In his Brooklyn homecoming, Gibson tallied 16 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
Who Was Not: Robinson was averaging 20.0 points in his previous four games, but he shot just 4-of-16 from the field for 12 points. He did record 11 assists however.
Fun Fact: Gibson was born in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn and began his high school career at Telecommunications H.S. in Bay Ridge. He attended Stoneridge Prep (Tarzana, Calif.) as a sophomore and junior and spent his senior year at Calvary Christian (San Fernando, Calif.).
The Nets blew a 12-point lead in this one, but a gutsy 30-point fourth quarter effort willed the team to victory.
Brooks and Blatche were extremely clutch down the stretch. But once again, Johnson hit a huge shot in the waning minutes.
Still, the Bulls were without Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and of course Derrick Rose in this one. It really should not have been as close as it was.
Brooklyn (28-19) suits up Tuesday night at home against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angles Lakers. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.