The Brooklyn Nets just don’t play well during the second game of a back-to-back and that was no different during their 92-76 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday as they looked tired and disinterested on the final game before the All-Star Break.
It was a team effort in how badly they played. Paul Pierce was probably the best of the worst as he finished with 15 points, but he shot just 4-for-11. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were both terrible and shot 4-for-14 each as they finished with 11 and 13 points respectively. Livingston had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting which wasn’t terrible. Andrei Kirilenko played his typical game and finished with eight points, but he was the only relief that anybody on the bench provided.
Brooklyn’s own Taj Gibson continued to play well against his hometown team. He scored 16 points in 30 minutes and really gave the Nets fits as they didn’t seem to have an answer for him in matchups. They got solid production from their entire team really though. Carlos Boozer had 15 points and Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah, the former Poly Prep star, and Jimmy Butler, who had a brief run-in with Johnson, each had 14.
This wasn’t exactly the typical low-energy game that we saw so many times in the beginning of the season. They had a chance to win this one. The problem is that they went down by 10 in the first quarter and then didn’t do much to fight back in the second or third quarters.
When the fourth quarter came around, they actually cut the lead to just three points when Kirilenko hit a three with 6:29 to play after trailing for nearly the entire game. Jason Kidd called a timeout immediately after that and removed Kevin Garnett. That caused big problems for the Nets on defense as the Bulls immediately went on a 9-0 run to increase the lead to 12 with 3:22 left. With the effort they were giving there was no chance for a comeback at that point.
“We need to play better defense when Kevin [Garnett] comes out of the game,” Pierce said. “We sustain when he is in there, but he can’t play 34 minutes.”
This game was troubling because of how much the Nets, both Kidd and his players, talked about the importance of the last game before the All-Star Break. And then nobody gave any effort to back up those words. This is an old team, but the Nets blew out the Bobcats the night before and the starters barely played in the second half.
The Nets now get a few days to rest, but don’t return home until March 3rd as they embark on a road-trip immediately after the break as the circus is in Brooklyn for the next couple of weeks.