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Nets squeak by ailing Bulls
Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Brook Lopez scored 20 points and the Brooklyn Nets held off a short-handed Chicago Bulls team down the stretch to post a 93-89 victory at the Barclays Center.
Brooklyn also received 13 points apiece from Joe Johnson and MarShon Brooks in bouncing back from a lopsided home loss to Miami on Wednesday, though it still got all it could handle from a Chicago squad playing without three key regulars in All-Star center Joakim Noah, forward Carlos Boozer and guard Kirk Hinrich.
Noah sat out the contest due to plantar fasciitis in his foot, Boozer missed a second straight game with a sore hamstring and Hinrich was sent back to Chicago earlier in the day for further evaluation for a right elbow infection.
Luol Deng and Marco Belinelli each had 18 points for the Bulls, who owned a 73-72 lead with eight minutes remaining despite their depleted roster. Taj Gibson, starting in Boozer's place, compiled 16 points and nine rebounds, while Nate Robinson came through with a 12-point, 11-assist effort handling point guard duties in Hinrich's absence.
"We were in position to win. ... We have to find a way to get it done," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Robinson's successful jumper with 8:27 left to play accounted for the ninth lead change of the second half, but Brooks put the Nets back in front less than a minute later with a basket that ignited a 9-1 run from the Brooklyn reserves. C.J. Watson followed with a 3-pointer and Andray Blatche capped the burst a pair of layups, the last of which put the Nets up 81-74 with five minutes to go.
Chicago stayed close, with back-to-back buckets from Robinson pulling the Bulls within 83-80 with under three minutes left. It would be a two-point game shortly afterward, when Robinson hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 86-84 with 1:24 remaining.
Blatche responded with a three-point play on the ensuing possession, but Brooklyn still couldn't put the Bulls away. The lead would go back to two when Deng had an uncontested layup off teammate Jimmy Butler's steal of a Gerald Wallace pass, making the score 91-89 with 15.9 seconds on the clock.
Butler came up with another steal just seconds later, but would lose the ball out of bounds and force the Bulls to foul Watson, who hit both bonus shots to stretch the margin to four.
Wallace then came up with his 13th rebound of the night after Deng misfired from long range, enabling the Nets to finally seal the win.
"It was great to see the bench guys come in and give us a lift and really close out the game for us," Johnson said.
Chicago started out slowly, missing 13 of 18 shots from the field in the first quarter and falling behind by a 24-12 score in the closing seconds of the period. The Nets owned a 33-25 advantage near the midway mark of the second stanza, before the Bulls put forth a 10-2 run to draw even.
The Bulls held a slim 42-41 halftime edge behind 13 points from Deng and slowly increased the differential early in the third quarter, with Butler driving the lane and scoring with 7:31 to go in the session for a 53-47 Chicago lead.
Brooklyn responded with a 7-0 spurt that culminated with a Keith Bogans 3- pointer at the six-minute mark to move ahead, and the game remained extremely tight over the duration.
Chicago had won an NBA-record 14 straight road games on a Friday, a streak dating back to April of 2011 ... The Nets finished with a 40-29 rebounding advantage and outscored the Bulls 56-44 in the paint ... The Bulls had a streak of seven straight games of holding opponents below 90 points end ... Thibodeau was named the Eastern Conference's Coach of the Month for January on Friday ... Robinson has now scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, though he went just 4-of-16 from the field.
02/02 01:13:58 ET
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