For the 2nd straight game, the Brooklyn Nets avoided elimination defeating the Chicago Bulls 95-92 forcing a game 7. Despite trailing by as many as 8 points in the 4th quarter, the Bulls cut the Nets lead to just 1 with 25 seconds to go. Chicago was able to fight back with the Nets missing 11 free-throws on the night. Brooklyn pulled after Andray Blatche sank 2 huge free throws, to increase the lead to 3. The Bulls had two chances to tie the game, but Marco Bellinelli’s three-pointer was off, and the Nets controlled a jump ball between Deron Williams and Joakim Noah to hang on for the win.
The Bulls came in to game 6 shorthanded. Luol Deng was forced to miss the game with an illness, and couldn’t even stay in the building. Deng left the arena and watched the game from his home.
The Bulls were without starting point guard Kirk Hinrich for the 2nd game in a row resulting in Nate Robinson getting the start. Marco Bellinelli took Deng’s spot and ended up scoring a game high 22 points while adding a career high 7 assists. Joakim Noah played 43 of 48 minutes and appears to be back to being himself scoring 14 points to go along with a game high 15 rebounds.
Chicago made a very effective defensive adjustment putting Jimmy Butler on Deron Williams. Williams had an excellent first half scoring 14 points, but only scored 3 second half points. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez also had 17 points apiece for the Nets. Gerald Wallace added 15 points in the win. The ultimate difference in the game was the bench play. Brooklyn’s bench outscored Chicago’s 27-7.
The Nets were also very effective drawing fouls on the Chicago bigs. Taj Gibson committed 6 fouls in just 18 minutes of action and Carlos Boozer was limited to 33 minutes before fouling out with 32 seconds left. If Boozer was out there at the end of the game, the result could have been different. Coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to use Nazr Mohammed who had only played 2 minutes to that point.
Brooklyn continues to take advantage of Hinrich being out of the lineup. His status for game 7 is still up in the air. If he’s unable to go, it will be a major bonus for the Nets. Luol Deng’s status also remains up in the air.
Game 7 will take place Saturday night from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both teams are fighting for the right to face the Heat in the next round. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm.