The Nets got blown out by the Chicago Bulls 113-86 on Monday night at Barclays Center in the penultimate game of the regular season.
The Nets fell to 37-44, dropping into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Indiana Pacers and one ahead of the Miami Heat. The Nets hold the tiebreaker over Indiana, by virtue of winning two of the three games they played against each other. Miami holds the tiebreaker over the Nets, having beaten Brooklyn all four times they played.
The Nets’ season finale is Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic. The Pacers still have two games left, Tuesday night at home vs. the Washington Wizards and Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Miami closes the regular season out Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers on the road.
In the game Monday night, the Bulls led 57-50 at halftime and took the game over in the third quarter. The Nets were within 11, at 74-63, on a Jarrett Jack 20-foot jumper at the 5:05 mark of the third. The Bulls responded with the game-deciding run, a 13-2 stretch to close the frame capped by three consecutive three-pointers from Nicola Mirotic to make it 87-65 Bulls entering the fourth.
That was part of a 26-point effort for Mirotic to lead the Bulls, as he shot 8-for-15 and 6-for-11 on threes, with 2 rebounds and 3 steals. Pau Gasol had 22 points (10-18 FG) and 11 rebounds for a double-double, and 4 assists. Jimmy Butler had 17 points, Taj Gibson had 15, and Derrick Rose had 13 points and 7 assists.
For the Nets, all you need to know is that Bojan Bogdanovic led them with 17 points on 5-for-11 from the field and 3-for-6 on threes, with 2 assists and a rebound. Jarrett Jack had 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 on threes), 2 assists, and a rebound. Brook Lopez was held to 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting, with 8 rebounds. Joe Johnson had 12 points and shot 5-for-9, a now-decent night for him, with 2 assists. Deron Williams shot a miserable 3-for-13 from the field, missed his one attempt from behind the arc, with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Williams said of how he explains a loss like this after the blowout in Milwaukee on Sunday to the Bucks, “There’s really no explanation, no excuse. It’s just another game where we came across a good defensive team where we decided that we wanted to try to do everything off the dribble and on our own. Didn’t get many assists, and you really can’t win against teams like this where you’re not sharing the ball and playing the way that we’ve had success.”
Johnson said of explaining the loss with so much on the line, “We lost, plain and simple. I really, honestly can’t explain it. I don’t even know how that’s possible with this being a very important game. So, I really don’t know.”
Johnson said of if he was surprised by tonight’s outcome, “Yeah, but there’s been results when we play against great teams, especially great defensive teams. We got to move the ball a little more. Guys got to be aggressive when he’s in the game and when he’s coming in the game – can’t be nervous or scared.”
Johnson said of the Nets’ not having control of their own destiny, “We really don’t have control. It’s in Indiana’s control. We just got to look forward to Wednesday and come out and play.”
On if the Nets have the mental toughness to rebound, Johnson said, “I have no idea. I can’t answer that.”
Williams said of how much carries over from offense to defense, “A lot. Any time you’re not scoring and they start hitting shots, you get deflated. The crowd’s not getting into the game cause we aren’t giving them a reason to. And they (Bulls) have a lot of fans in the arena, so it starts feeling like a home game for them. They just got it going and we didn’t get stops, we didn’t share the ball, we didn’t make shots and that’s pretty much the game.”
Williams said of if he’s surprised by the change in the Nets’ play in the last two games, “I am. I’d think we’d play with a little more desperation with the way things are playing out right now but it hasn’t. The only thing we can do now is get the one on Wednesday and hope for the best.”
Jack said of how surprising it was for the Nets to come out that way tonight, “It was very surprising and disappointing at the same time. We were basically out of the game. They came out and hit us in the mouth early. We were playing catch-up pretty much the entire game.”
On what the team needs to do to succeed, Jack said, “I just feel like we’ve got to step up to the challenge. Teams know the level that we’ve been playing at the past couple of weeks, and they’re going to come in here with their antennas up and try to take away the things that we’ve been doing successfully, so we’ve got to find other ways to get the job done.”
Thaddeus Young, who had 8 points (3-11 FG) and 11 rebounds, said of the state of the team, “We’re just not playing well. We just need to go out there and play better and get back to the days that we’ve been playing as a basketball team that got us to this point. We just have to make shots and play better defense, and go back to the drawing board and what we were doing best – which was moving the basketball and just getting everybody the ball.”
Young said to the question of if the Bulls’ defense stopped the Nets from moving the ball or if it’s something the Nets were doing, “I think it’s a little bit of both. As a team, I think we kind of went away from the things that got us to this point. We’ve been running a lot of isos (isolation), a lot of stuff just trying to take advantage of that, mismatches and stuff like that. But we’ve just got to get back to moving the ball and beating guys up dribbling, making plays for each other and defensively, the two teams that we played (Milwaukee and Chicago) are good defensive teams, but you kill a lot of that stuff by just moving the basketball and just playing as a team.”