Balanced Effort Leads Nets in Wire-to-Wire Victory Over Bulls

B+

Final: 05/11/2021

W 115 – 107

Whatever switch that flipped during halftime of Brooklyn’s game against Denver continued to show itself against Chicago.

Brooklyn had the upper hand through the first three quarters en route to a 115-107 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday. Kevin Durant led eight Nets in double figures with 21 points while the defense was on the forefront holding the Bulls to 40.6% shooting.

Though the Nets led wire-to-wire, the Bulls did their best to make things interesting late. Chicago cut the Nets’ lead to as little as six in the fourth quarter in the final moments, but Brooklyn had just enough answers in a game it led by as many as 19 points.

The Nets shot 47.2% from the field and 12-of-33 from three in what was largely an up-tempo and efficient night offensively. Joe Harris splashed a three-pointer to start the game, Blake Griffin followed up with another — and the tone was set. 

Kyrie Irving played a large part in Brooklyn’s hot start but was forced to exit in the third quarter after receiving an elbow to the face from Nikola Vucevic. The Nets are calling the injury a facial contusion with no signs of a concussion, but they plan to do another X-ray in the morning to confirm the severity of the injury after the first scan was inconclusive. 

Brooklyn’s offense was nearly pristine after it assisted on all 12 of its made field goals in the first quarter and finished with 32 assists on 42 buckets alongside seven turnovers. On the other end, the Nets recorded 11 points off Chicago’s nine turnovers on the night.

The Nets’ high-flyers helped Brooklyn make its mark in the paint as it recorded a 50-34 advantage on the interior in points. There were lobs and drives aplenty after the Nets followed up six first-quarter three-pointers with just six more through the rest of the game.

Zach LaVine had a big night with 41 points while Vucevic had a rare off night against the Nets with 12 points on 27.8% shooting. The Bulls made 18 three-pointers that helped earn a 33-22 advantage in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to counter Brooklyn’s offensive display.

It was a bit too close for comfort down the stretch, but the Nets showed great signs in their game that counter what was seen in their four-game losing streak. The ball movement, urgency and leadership were evident, while Bruce Brown gave great energy with a double-double and the bench added 36 points. 

With the win, the Nets currently stand 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks and 2.0 behind the Sixers at second place in the East with four contests left in the regular season. On top of that, James Harden is expected to be a game-time decision on Wednesday after missing five weeks with a hamstring injury, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews.

Next up: A quick turnaround against the Spurs on Wednesday.

Kevin Durant

A

The stats: 21 PTS, 9-13 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-3 FT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 2 TO, 32 MIN

Kevin Durant had a great all-around game, both creating and facilitating.

KD played the Bulls’ defense to his advantage as he got to his sports and got a variety of looks and finishes. He especially stepped up once Kyrie exited in the third quarter, with no one on the Bulls able to stop him.

KD shows his impact in various ways, and he gave a reminder of that on Tuesday as he ran well with his teammates while also coming up with three blocks. Steve Nash did not rule out KD playing again on Wednesday, which would be great progress for Durant on the second half of a back-to-back. 

Joe Harris

B+

The stats: 17 PTS, 7-16 FG, 2-7 3PT, 1-1 FT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 31 MIN

Joe Harris led the Nets (for once) in field goal attempts, but the production was not always there.

Joe set the tone early with a quick three-pointer but went on to just hit one more on the night. He had some good looks in the fourth quarter that failed to go down, which opened the window a bit for the Bulls.

It was great to see Joe getting so many opportunities offensively, the Nets could have just benefitted from a few more threes. Still, he remained aggressive and worked well while driving the ball, too.

Bruce Brown

A

The stats: 15 PTS, 6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 10 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 28 MIN

Masked Bruce Brown came ready to roll.

Bruce was involved from the jump and played a big part in Brooklyn’s early pace. He scored all his points in the first half, setting a career-high in the first two quarters while connecting with his teammates and cleaning up in the paint.

Bruce put up an impactful double-double, which included five offensive boards for Brooklyn. The masked man came to play, and the Nets are better when Bruce is starting. 

Jeff Green

B

The stats: 14 PTS, 5-12 FG, 2-7 3PT, 2-2 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 25 MIN

Jeff Green was a sneaky part of Brooklyn’s big night off the bench.

Though Jeff was on the court as the Bulls made their run in the fourth quarter, he also made a key layup late that helped the Nets maintain a (somewhat) comfortable lead. He was not always hitting from three, but he helped give the Nets their advantage inside and worked well with the bench unit. 

We know Uncle Jeff adds an extra layer, and his production off the bench was especially welcomed down the stretch. The Nets especially needed his production as Landry Shamet continues to struggle offensively.

Blake Griffin

A-

The stats: 13 PTS, 5-8 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1-2 FT, 4 REB, 4 AST, 24 MIN

Blake Griffin continues to do all the right things.

Blake added good size while also stretching the floor, which led to success for Brooklyn against Chicago’s defensive scheme. He drained a three-pointer early and helped the Nets capitalize on fast breaks on the Bulls’ mistakes.

Add in Blake’s belly slide across the court after a foul, and he just continues to have fun. He especially is thriving with KD’s return as the duo has shown good chemistry as of late. 

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