- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: Only eight teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
The Brooklyn Nets will have a chance to make it nine on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The Nets staved off elimination again on Thursday night, surviving late to beat the significantly undermanned Chicago Bulls, 95-92, at United Center to force a do-or-die Game 7.
The Nets’ last playoff road win came back on April 21, 2007 when they beat the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Prior to Thursday night, the Nets had never won an elimination Game 6 to force a Game 7 in franchise history.
Brooklyn had gone 0-4 at United Center this season before this victory.
JOEY ONE LEG: What was that about being a so-called “decoy?” Joe Johnson didn’t look hampered by plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Johnson hit his first four shots and ended up with 17 points in 38 minutes. He shot 7-for-13 from the field overall.
CRASH, SAVIOR OF THE UNIVERSE: Gerald Wallace had his third consecutive strong output on offense, contributing 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting -- including 2-for-4 from 3-point range. Wallace had scored 29 points combined in his previous two contests. He added three rebounds and three assists. Wallace overcame early foul trouble in the first quarter.
D-WILL: Deron Williams had 17 points and 11 assists in 42 minutes. It was his 22nd career postseason double-double. He had scored 55 points combined in the previous two games of the series. Williams converted his third dunk of the series. He had just two dunks during the regular season.
BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez had his first sub-20-point performance of the series, scoring just 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting while adding three rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
LUCKY, LUCKY: Brooklyn’s big three shot just 3-for-17 in the second half and committed five turnovers. They also went 13-for-23 from the free throw line in the final 24 minutes.
BENCH MOB: The Nets’ bench combined for 27 huge points. Andray Blatche (10 points, seven rebounds) hit his biggest shot of the season -- making it 92-88 with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Blatche also hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining to give Brooklyn a 95-92 lead.
DECIMATED BULLS: Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Luol Deng (flu) both missed the game. Nate Robinson (flu) and Taj Gibson (flu) both gutted it out for Chicago. Robinson had 18 points in 42 minutes. Noted Net killer Marco Belinelli led the way for the Bulls with 22 points, but shot just 8-for-21 from the field.
THIRD IS THE BAD WORD: The Nets missed 12 straight field goals during a stretch of 7:10 in the third quarter, allowing the Bulls to get back in the game. In what has been their worst quarter all season, the Nets shot just 4-for-19 from the field. They had a chance to extend to a double-digit lead, did the exact opposite and yet were only outscored 17-15 in the period. Williams, Johnson and Lopez went 1-for-9 combined in the third.
SURGING AHEAD: D-Will had eight points -- including a four-point play -- during a stretch of 1:40 late in the second quarter to enable the Nets to take a 60-53 lead into the locker room. Williams had 14 points, eight assists and no turnovers in the first half. Johnson added 13 points, while Lopez had 12. Both Johnson and Lopez each scored 10 points in the first quarter. The Nets shot 55.8 percent in the opening 24 minutes and had just two turnovers -- both in the second.
UP NEXT: Game 7 on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
15dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford