Saturday, May 4, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Bulls 99, Nets 93
By Nick Friedell
NEW YORK -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls pulled out a 99-93 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to win the series, 4-3.
How it happened: Joakim Noah played one of the best games of his career, scoring 24 points, pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking six shots in a game many pundits were counting the Bulls out of since they were playing without Derrick Rose (knee), Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf injury). Marco Belinelli also had a huge game. He knocked down several key shots down the stretch and finished with 22 points and five rebounds. Nate Robinson added 12 points, four assists and four rebounds. Deron Williams had 24 points to lead Brooklyn, but the Nets couldn't knock down shots when they needed them most. The Bulls did.
What it means: This is the defining win of the Tom Thibodeau era. He never doubted that his team would win this series, and this game, despite all the injuries. Noah played like a man possessed and set the tone that the rest of his teammates followed. He was the one who said the Bulls would win this game and he backed up his talk. The Bulls knew most picked them to lose and wanted to prove that they could still find a way. They battled all night and played with the type of passion that set them apart throughout the year. It didn't matter who was on the floor, they all contributed something and did what they had to do. No matter what happens from here on out this season, Thibodeau and his team should take pride in the fact they won this series despite all the adversity they faced.
Hits: After not playing for much of the past two months, Marquis Teague came in and played 14 big minutes, scoring four points and dishing out three assists.
Misses: The Nets lost a Game 7 at home to a team playing without its superstar and two of its most important players. Thibodeau's team proved on this night that sometimes heart and hustle are more important than talent.
Stat of the night: Chicago shot 55.3 percent in the first half and turned the ball over just eight times.
What's next: The Bulls head south to face off against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 is Monday night in Miami.