This wasn’t how they wanted to go into the All-Star break.
What it means: The Nets (24-27) have thrived playing small/long-ball, but they cannot handle bigger teams. Indiana, Detroit and Chicago are a combined 9-0 against Brooklyn. Joakim Noah (14 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks), Carlos Boozer (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Taj Gibson (16 points, five rebounds, two blocks) all had huge nights. The Bulls ended up outrebounding the Nets 45-27.
The Nets are now 2-10 in the second game of back-to-back sets overall and 8-16 on the road. They trailed 75-72 with 6:28 left, but the Bulls answered with nine consecutive points to put the game away. Chicago closed the game on a 17-4 run.
Kevin Garnett did play -- and played extremely well -- stuffing the statsheet with four points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 24 minutes. Nets coach Jason Kidd decided to give Garnett a rest midway through the fourth quarter, but Andray Blatche performed poorly in Garnett’s place, allowing Chicago to pull away.
Deron Williams had one of his worst games of the season, finishing with six turnovers. His biggest TO came when the Nets had pulled within 56-53 in the third quarter. The Bulls responded with a 6-0 mini-run to regain control of the game. Williams finished with 13 points and five assists on 4-for-14 shooting. He appears to desperately need the All-Star break to rest his ankles -- as well as the rest of his body.
Joe Johnson, headed to his seventh All-Star Game appearance, this weekend in New Orleans, couldn’t get it going on Thursday, also finishing 4-for-14 from the field for 11 points and three turnovers.
The Nets shot just 38.8 percent from the field. Paul Pierce had 15 points, but shot just 4-for-11.
Tensions escalate: Things got testy with 5:56 left in the third quarter when Johnson caught Jimmy Butler with an elbow and was whistled for an offensive foul. Butler didn’t like the contact, and got in Johnson’s face. Johnson responded by striking Butler in the face with his finger in an effort to push Butler away. Both players were assessed double-technical fouls.
Shortly thereafter, Pierce caught Kirk Hinrich with an elbow, was whistled for an offensive foul and ended up getting hit with a tech for arguing with the officials. While both Johnson and Pierce were frustrated, give them credit for showing emotion.
Up next: The All-Star break. Then the final six games of their grueling circus road trip.