Brooklyn Nets : 76 : : Chicago Bulls : 79 — April 25, 2013 (GAME 3)
Though they nearly collapsed over the last few minutes, the Chicago Bulls got the ugly win they needed. They helped hold Brooklyn to just 22% shooting in the first half, though Brooklyn deserves plenty of credit for it as well. but they weren’t scorching the nets (or the Nets) either so Chicago never built a gaudy lead that might have earned them some rest.
Carlos Boozer continues to give the Nets fits with 22/16, but more importantly, Luol Deng is the difference between winning and losing in this series right now. Tonight he wasn’t getting the same kind of easy shots he did in his solid Game 2 performance, but he remained aggressive. Sure he missed long jumpers that contributed to the dismal 14-point 4th quarter that almost let Brooklyn steal the game, but he seemed more than willing to step up alongside Boozer, scoring 21 points (on just 9-of-23 shooting, 1-of-6 from three) with 10 rebounds. These two Chicago wins have been totally different than Game 1 (except for that 4th quarter, of course) and nothing highlights that quite like the third quarter stretch where Deng destroyed Gerald Wallace for about four minutes straight (as seen above). Wallace getting roasted like this is bad news for a Nets team that doesn’t feature another “noteworthy” defensive player on the roster.
So, it really doesn’t look like the Nets are going to figure out a scheme to stop Boozer or Deng (what exactly are Wallace and Reggie Evans doing then?) so they’ll probably have to look at correcting some things on the offensive end. Obviously the Bulls deserve credit for their effort, but for the most part, the Nets just didn’t challenge them. Joe Johnson, who performed admirably despite dealing plantar fasciitis, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez got back on track during their late run, but with Jerry Stackhouse throwing up airballs at a hilarious rate and everyone else bricking jumpers all over the place, they’re not going to be able to get better looks even if they show the desire to work for them. They can pretty much survive anything Chicago does offensively, but they can’t do that if they also make the Bulls’ defense look like the healthy version of itself.
Chicago Bulls lead the series 2-1