NETS WIN, CLING TO HOPE
Added by Matthew Hochberg on April 30, 2013.
(COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
The Brooklyn Nets have survived at least a couple more days in their first-round playoff matchup against the Chicago Bulls. Two days after coughing up a 14 point lead in their triple-overtime loss in Chicago, the Nets came out of the gate strong and finished even stronger, outscoring the Bulls by 15 points in the final quarter on their way to a 110-91 victory, forcing a Game 6 at the United Center on Thursday.
Center Brook Lopez continued his high-level of play of late, pacing Brooklyn with 28 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Star point guard Deron Williams had a strong performance as well, scoring 23 points and adding 10 assists. Forward Andray Blatche contributed with 13 points off the bench, with 10 of those coming in the 4th quarter.
After beating the Nets by a score of 142-134 on Saturday, the Bulls went into tonight’s game at the Barclays Center trying to close out the series and look toward a second-round matchup with the Miami Heat. This time, however, they were unable to rally and will be hosting Game 6 back home.
The Bulls are also playing with a banged up roster; Starting point guard Kirk Hinrich bruised his left calf in Saturday’s game, and has been replaced by Nate Robinson. While Robinson has been playing well of late, Hinrich is certainly still an important piece of their rotation and provides more depth and options for Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff to work with. Center Joakim Noah is playing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, which is clearly hindering his ability to play at the level he is capable of. And of course, there is Derrick Rose who, after tearing his ACL about one year ago in the first-round of the playoffs, has still not suited up for a game even after being cleared to play over a month ago.
Clearly, these injuries are debilitating for Chicago, but they aren’t the only ones with problems. Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson also has plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and even received a cortisone shot before Game 4 to make sure he was well enough to play. Yet, injuries are part of the game, and it is time to see which team can withstand and push through the obstacles in their way. The Nets have already showed their resiliency, coming back with a strong effort last night, cutting the Bulls lead to 3-2 after a heart-breaking loss on Saturday, where it would have been easy to give in to the series.
The odds may not be in their favor, but there is definitely still hope for the Brooklyn Nets. Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from being down 3-1, and the Chicago Bulls are 12-0 when leading a series 3-1. But, for the team that won just 12 games in their 2009-2010 campaign, they are doing pretty well if you ask me.