As they have in just about every game this series, the Nets got off to a good start tonight. They were very aggressive, attacking Chicago in the paint, where they went for 18 points in the quarter. Brook Lopez was especially good, attacking the offensive boards and going up for dunks whenever possible. He finished the first quarter with 11 points and Brooklyn was ahead 26-21 after 1.
In the second quarter, the Nets continued to be aggressive on offense, going towards the basket. Surprisingly, Kris Humphries hit 4 jump shots off the bench in the quarter to help the Nets build on their small lead. Brook Lopez came back in to close out the quarter strong. The Nets led at halftime, 52-44 behind Lopez’s performance.
In the third quarter, Deron Williams joined the party, scoring 13 points in the quarter as he took control of the offense. Brook Lopez also continued to play well offensively. Unfortunately, the Nets’ defense did not play well, giving up 29 points to the Bulls. Brooklyn only led 77-73 heading into the fourth quarter, even though it seemed like they should have been up by much more than 4 points.
Although the Bulls never tied or took the lead in the fourth quarter, they were always hanging around and it always seemed like they would come back in crunch time to find a way to win. Andray Blatche was big in the quarter, scoring 10 points and making some nice isolation moves. However, one of the most unlikely Nets prevented any Bulls comeback in the final moments. First, Gerald Wallace hit a 3 out of an out-of-bounds play with only 6 seconds left on the shot clock. Wallace has been terrible from 3 this season, but hit one in a huge situation. On the very next play, Wallace intercepted a pass and then had a breakaway dunk with about 2 minutes remaining to put the Nets up by 12 and seal the win.
The key to this game was free throw shooting and rebounding, two things the Nets did not do well in game 4. The Nets outrebounded Chicago 44-33, including a whopping 17 offensive rebounds. From the foul line, the Nets shot 20-23, 87%. Missed free throws are what allowed Chicago to come back in game 4. The Nets were able to score 110 points tonight by shooting 50% from the field and by scoring in the paint.
With this win, the Nets’ season will stay alive until at least Thursday, when they will play game 6 in Chicago. We have to give the Nets a lot of respect for winning this game by 19 points after an embarrassing loss in game 4. It would have been easy and understandable for them to lose this game. Now, all they have to do is win ONE game in Chicago, and we will have game 7 back in Brooklyn.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: B-
Reggie had a pretty typical game with 4 points and 12 rebounds. He did a good, but not great job on the glass, as Carlos Boozer did have a couple of offensive rebounds over him. Reggie did have a dunk tonight and he also attempted to run a fast break where he ran all the way down the court before passing the ball.
Gerald Wallace: A-
Wallace had 2 HUGE plays in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Nets, first the 3, and then the steal and dunk. Besides that, he also made a 3 and also a 2 where his feet were on the 3-point line. He finished the game with 12 points. If Wallace is finally regaining his confidence on offense, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Brook Lopez: A+
Brook Lopez continued his great series in game 5. He finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards, which was huge. He was 6-7 from the foul line and 11-20 from the field, both great percentages. Defensively, Brook made Joakim Noah look almost invisible. Lopez has been awesome all series long and he deserves a series win.
Deron Williams: A-
Deron had another very good game tonight, finishing with 23 points and 10 assists. He was 9-10 from the foul line and made two 3’s. He did have a few turnovers in the third quarter, but we can forgive him for that. Kirk Hinrich being out was a huge difference-maker for Williams. Hopefully Hinrich’s injury keeps him out the rest of the series.
Joe Johnson: C
Joe was quiet today, finishing with only 11 points in 39 minutes. He was 1-5 from 3, but only took 11 shots. The Nets didn’t need much on offense from Joe in this game, but on the road in game 6, they need him to score more, especially if nothing else is working offensively on the road.
C.J. Watson: B
C.J. responded nicely today after being one of the game 4 scapegoats. He finished with 11 points and shot 50% from the field. The question for C.J. is how he responds in Chicago, where he is hated for some reason.
Andray Blatche: A
One can argue that Blatche is the reason the Nets won this game. Without his offense in the 4th quarter, who knows if the Nets would have held onto their lead. Blatche scored 10 in the first half of the 4th quarter in a time when the Nets weren’t getting much offense from anyone else.
Both teams will have a couple of days off now before game 6, which will be in Chicago on Thursday night. FRWD will have full coverage of that elimination game.