The Brooklyn Nets returned home Thursday night and lost a heartbreaking game to the Chicago Bulls, 92-90. The Nets led by as much as 16 in the first half, but after another 3rd quarter collapse and a Brook Lopez missed jumper at the buzzer, the Nets fell to Chicago. Deron Williams led the way for Brooklyn with 30 points and 10 assists while Lopez also had 28 points. Carlos Boozer had a monster 29 point-18 rebound effort for Chicago and Jimmy Butler also had 16 and 10.
The Nets got off to a great start in this game, led by Brook Lopez. Brook scored 18 points in the first quarter on 8-9 from the field and the Nets led by 13. The bench held onto the lead in the second quarter led by Blatche and Marshon and the Nets still led by 11 at halftime. As we have seen many times this year, the Nets collapsed in the third quarter. Their 11-point lead completely disappeared thanks to Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler. Brook Lopez was not as aggressive as he was in the first half. Brooklyn led by just 2 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was tight throughout with the teams exchanging leads. With the Nets down by 2 and 5 seconds remaining, Deron Williams found Brook Lopez for a wide open baseline jumper. The shot went halfway down and came out and the Nets lost.
The Nets’ biggest issue tonight was rebounding. They were out-rebounded 46-30 despite the Bulls really only having two big men, Carlos Boozer and Nazr Mohammed. The Nets have been one of the better rebounding teams all season and were at full strength tonight, so this is concerning.
This was one of the most painful losses for fans this year. This was Brooklyn’s first home game in a very long time and it was a winnable game. The only loss that could have hurt more was the first Knicks loss at home. But this is right up there with that.
This was a very tough loss for the Nets. With a win, they could have all but locked up the 4-seed in the east. Now, the Bulls are very much alive for the 4 and have the tiebreaker over Brooklyn. They are only one game behind the Nets in the loss column. The worst position the Nets could be in heading into the playoffs would be the 5-seed and facing the Bulls in the first round on the road. The Bulls looked awfully good on the road tonight while missing half of their team. Just imagine what they would be like at home with most of the guys who were out tonight healthy and maybe even with Derrick Rose. That series could be a sweep.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: D-
Reggie was pretty terrible tonight. Offensively, he was 0-4 from the field, had 2 turnovers, and had an offensive foul that erased a 3-pointer. Defensively, he had no answer at all for Carlos Boozer, who had a career night. Rebounding-wise, he was even outplayed by Boozer. Yes, he had 13 rebounds, but he could have had 20 in a game like this.
Gerald Wallace: D
I know that Wallace is hurting right now, but he was completely invisible tonight. 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists? For a guy making $10 million this year?
Brook Lopez: B-
Lopez had a great first quarter, but tailed off towards the end of the game like he often does. He made some very poor decisions in the closing moments of this game, and the baseline jumper that would have tied it was not one of them. He also contributed to the rebounding problem with only 5 boards. Of course, he did do lots of good things at the beginning of this game. He opened the game shooting 8-9 from the field in the first quarter.
Deron Williams: A
Deron was great tonight and he looks as healthy as he ever was in Utah. He had 30 points and 10 assists, so you can’t ask of anything more from him. He set up the would-have-been game-tying Lopez shot, too. He was the perfect amount of aggressive tonight, knowing when to pull up for 3′s, drive to the rim, or pass. He only doesn’t get an A+ because the Nets lost.
Joe Johnson: C+
Joe had a couple of big shots in the fourth quarter, but was invisible in the first 3 quarters. Yes, he was coming back after missing 5 straight games and he did look rusty. If he isn’t healthy now, he should miss some time until he is 100%.
The bench should have been the Nets’ strength tonight against a tired and injured Bulls team. Instead, it was their weakness. Nobody played well. The bench combined for 6 field goals and 7 turnovers. I think that says it all.
The Nets continue their 3-game homestand on Saturday when they host last place Charlotte. FRWD will have full coverage of that game.