Discounting a score adjustment on a Nate Robinson two converted to a three, the Bulls went scoreless for over five minutes to end the game. They finally added two points when Robinson and Noah each split free throws once Brooklyn went into desperation mode.
The terrible finish may work to their advantage as no one in Chicago will walk out feeling all that confident with the win. The Bulls know they escaped this game rather than took it from Brooklyn.
This was a sandwich game for the Bulls. They started horrifically. They ended horrifically. They dominated in the middle. The Nets went one stretch where they simply could not throw the ball in the Ocean hitting only one field goal over around 12 minutes between the end of the first quarter stretching over most of the second.
Overall though, Chicago's shooting fell back down to their norm, as they shot a shade under 40%, still struggled from the three point line, and were poor from the charity stripe. It was their great defense throughout the majority of the game that swung the game for them.
Kirk Hinrich shadowed Deron Williams limiting him all game long. I'm not a huge Hinrich fan, but the past two games he's pestered Deron Williams into scrub like performances, neutralizing what you'd expect to be Brooklyn's biggest talent advantage.
Jimmy Butler couldn't get much going on offense and looks awfully tentative, but the lack of confidence hasn't affected his defense where he's slowed Joe Johnson.
Luol Dangerous for two minutes
At one stretch, Deng looked unstoppable, even breaking Wallace's ankles off the dribble to drill a three, then taking him right to the basket for a three point play the next possession.
Overall, Deng scored 10 straight points for Chicago in a shade under two minutes early in the third to build the lead that Brooklyn would unsuccessfully try to chase down the rest of the night.
Deng never really got it going before or after that and was just 5/19 outside of that stretch, but even though it was early in the third that won the game for Chicago.
Say what you want about Boozer but...
You know I'm not steering the Boozer bandwagon, but if the Bulls win this series against the Nets, you can look at one C-Booz as a big reason why.
I noted before the series started that Brooklyn was an ideal matchup because they lacked anyone to contain Boozer when the Bulls were on offense nor did they have anyone to press him while he's on defense. So far, Reggie Evans has proven that to be true.
Boozer has a PER over 20 for the playoffs, a 59%+ TS%, and is averaging 20 points per game. He's rebounded well, limiting Reggie Evans to just two offensive rebounds for the series and has even stepped up and made some nice defensive rotations.
Hats off to you Carlos, you may be Chicago's whipping boy, but you've come through for the first three games of this series.
So much for the revenge of C.J. Watson
Many have said that C.J. Watson was taking this series personally after the Bulls waived him. Perhaps he is. However, with a chance to send the game to overtime with the Bulls flailing, momentumless, and likely to lose, he airballed a wide open corner three.
Overall, he shot just one for eight on the night and the effectiveness he had the past two games disappeared. That's probably par for the course for C.J. though [and I don't mean that in a bad way] because if he was good enough to always play that well he wouldn't be signing for the minimum contract.
No repeat magic for Joakim
Noah was 0-7 from the floor with just one point on split free throws after an intentional foul. He also added two turnovers to the mix and wasn't able to recapture the magic he had last game where he shrugged off the fact that he could barely walk to dominate the Nets anyway.
He played with heart, rebounding the basketball, gave it his all, and chewed up some big man minutes for Chicago. In the end, he simply wasn't able to give the Bulls much positive impact, and it's likely not going to get any prettier for Noah who's foot is clearly bothering him significantly.
That said, I salute you Joakim. You came out there and gave it your all. It's tough when a guy is playing at 60% and gives you a performance like he's playing at 60%, because we irrationally expect guys to keep doing what they can at 100%. Noah wasn't able to give us his best, but he gave us everything he had, and that's always enough for me.
Bulls take control of the series
After three games, the closest a series can be is two to one, so the Bulls can't relax. Any advantage they've gained is wiped out by a game four loss.
That said, Chicago has given themselves a nice advantage as the Nets would need to win three of four against Chicago to take the series. That's a tall order against this Bulls team which tends to play well after losses and can win games with their defensive intensity alone.