The Brooklyn Nets’ 113-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls was ugly for reasons that had little to do with the final disparity.
The team entered the game tied for the eighth seed with the Indiana Pacers, holding the head-to-head tiebreaker should the two teams end with the same record. But the loss means the Nets now have to hope that the Pacers lose one of their final two games.
There was a gloomy overtone in the Nets locker room following the loss, as everybody knew the opportunity that had just slipped out of their hands. “We really don’t have control,” a clearly upset Joe Johnson said at his locker after the game. “It’s in Indiana’s control. We just got to look forward to Wednesday and come out and play.”
If the Pacers win out, they’ll earn the eighth seed in the playoffs, sending the Nets packing for the summer. They face the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards, two teams in the playoffs that may elect to rest their starters as the Pacers fight for their spot. The Nets take on the Orlando Magic, a lottery-bound team with little to play for. But they only have one more shot to win, and even that doesn’t guarantee the playoffs. They also have to worry about the Miami Heat, who will play the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday and could sneak into the eighth spot.
“It’s our fault,” Williams said. “We put ourselves in this position. A week ago it was looking really good for us. Everybody was happy. Now it’s kind of the opposite. We’ve just got to be positive, as positive as we can in the situation, and just get the one on Wednesday.”
Johnson and Brook Lopez both said they would not watch Tuesday night’s Pacers game, while Williams was undecided. “I’m not going to change anything (about my routine),” Lopez said. “I’m focused on us.”
But coach Lionel Hollins held out hope. “The way I look at it is that we have one more game left and we have to win it,” Hollins said. “As I said earlier, the other teams have to win, too. Indiana has to win. We win Wednesday and they don’t win both games, we’re still in. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”