In game 2 of their first round playoff series, the Chicago Bulls grinded out a win over the Brooklyn Nets 90-82. The Nets were always hanging around in the game, but Chicago made too many great defensive plays in the second half to prevent a Brooklyn comeback. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 21 points. 3 Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah, had double-doubles for Chicago.
The first quarter of game 2 looked nothing like it did in game 1. The Bulls came out playing tough defense and the Nets never looked comfortable. Brooklyn trailed by 3 after the first quarter. The Nets picked up the pace a bit in the second quarter and were able to make more of their open shots. Their defense still was not good, but at least their offense was better. C.J. Watson hit a buzzer-beater 3 at the end of the quarter to cut Chicago’s lead to just 1 at halftime. Deron Williams did not have a field goal in the first half, but Brook Lopez scored 14 points.
The third quarter was the worst of the series for the Nets. They shot 2-19 from the field and scored only 11 points. Chicago’s defense was suffocating and they had great energy. Brooklyn trailed 69-57 after 3 quarters. The Nets got close in the fourth quarter, but were never able to get closer than 4 points. Joe Johnson hit a couple of big 3′s to keep the Nets in the game, but Chicago had too many hustle plays towards the end of the game. Joakim Noah would not allow the Nets to win tonight.
Chicago’s defense was fantastic tonight, especially in the second half. They held the Nets to only 35% shooting and 19% from 3. They were able to force lots of turnovers in the first half, but the Nets settled down a bit in the second half and finished the game with only 12 turnovers. Meanwhile, Chicago shot nearly 50% from the field, which is very good for an offensively challenged team and they outrebounded the Nets 44-39.
We knew this would be a tough series and that game 2 would not be as easy as game 1. The good news is that the Nets now have 2 full days off to figure out a way to score against Chicago’s defense. Also, the Nets were one of the best road teams in the NBA this season, and all they need is to win 1 of the next 2 games in Chicago to still have control of the series.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: C-
Reggie was not very effective tonight. He only had 8 rebounds, which is the fewest he has had in a very long time. He made 2 field goals and never went to the foul line. The Bulls were not guarding him closely at all when he was on the floor, which allowed them to guard the rest of the Nets’ team more toughly.
Gerald Wallace: D
Wallace played surprisingly well in game 1. He did not have a good game tonight. He was too aggressive in the first quarter and was taking too many shots. He finished the game shooting 1-7 with only 2 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes. He barely played in the second half because he is such a liability on offense. The Nets were better with Wallace on the bench and C.J. Watson on the floor.
Brook Lopez: B-
Lopez had a great second quarter where he was not missing jump shots. He finished with 21 points, but only had 5 rebounds. He was outplayed in the second half by Joakim Noah, who was playing on one foot. Noah fought harder than Lopez to get offensive rebounds and keep possessions alive for the Bulls. Lopez needs to get more than 5 rebounds per game against Noah for the Nets to win the series.
Deron Williams: D-
After a great game 1, Deron Williams was terrible tonight. He shot just 1-9 from the field and scored most of his points at the foul line. Deron did have 10 assists and 4 rebounds, but against Kirk Hinrich, Deron needs to score much more to keep the Nets in games. The Bulls’ point guards are not good defenders and Deron needs to do so much more.
Joe Johnson: C+
Joe made some shots in the fourth quarter, but he did not have a field goal in the second or third quarters. He can’t disappear for half of the game. He finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Andray Blatche: C+
Blatche had some good plays and bad plays tonight, like usual. He finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes. He made some good plays in the fourth quarter to keep the Nets in the game, but he also took some bad shots.
C.J. Watson: B+
C.J. has been one of the Nets’ best players in the first couple of games in this series. He had 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds tonight, including making a big buzzer-beater 3 at the end of the first half. I would not be shocked to see Watson start game 3 in place of Gerald Wallace.
Game 3 of this first round series will be on Thursday night in Chicago. FRWD will have full coverage of the game.