Chicago Bulls 79, Brooklyn Nets 76--Bulls lead 2-1
The Bulls and Nets entered the United Center tonight tied at a game apiece on the heels of a pair of vastly different games in Brooklyn. In Game One, the Bulls were simply overwhelmed, but Game Two was a 2012-13 Chicago classic, a symphony of raw exertion and grit.
In this one, the early going resembled Game One, as the Bulls turned it over three times in less than two minutes of play and found themselves down 13-2 by the 7:37 mark. The turnover total for Chicago ballooned to five before the halfway point of the first. Meanwhile, the Bulls couldn't throw it into Lake Michigan, starting the game 2-for-8 from the field.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Deron Williams had eight points (5/5 from the FT line) through just over six minutes of play after scoring eight all game on Tuesday. Luckily, Williams cooled down and the Bulls rattled off an 14-0 run, taking a two point surplus into the second after having been down 12. All in all, it was a tremendously ugly first quarter, as the Bulls didn't start hitting until the last few minutes and the Nets stuck with the outside shot even as it didn't fall (Brooklyn didn't score a basket in the first quarter's final 6:25). Then again, it's not as if "that was an ugly quarter" will be an infrequent saying during this series.
The Nets continued to lob airball after airball, which negated the fact that the Bulls weren't lighting it up either. However, Taj Gibson absolutely posterized Kris Humphries off of a pick and roll to the put the Bulls up 26-20, a dunk that was basically a way scaled down version of MJ's throw dunk from the end of Space Jam.
Things were getting so bad that I wondered if the Nets might have more luck blindfolding themselves and using the Force when rising to shoot. The Nets were an unbelievably awful 6-for-32 from the field through 18 minutes of play, good for 19%.
The Bulls did very well to recover, generally outworking the Nets and taking shots much closer to the basket. At the same time, the Nets' incompetence was just amazingly comprehensive. A Jimmy Butler interception in the back court led to a wide open layup for Kirk Hinrich, who happened to still be under the basket, a play that capably summarizes the state of affairs for the Nets in the first half.
The Bulls took a 41-34 lead into the break after Gerald Wallace hit a trey at the buzzer. The Nets finished the half just 9-for-40 from the field, or 22.5%. The Bulls weren't exactly covering themselves in glory either, having shot just 41% (1-for-6 from three).